J.R. Smith has choices to make, and like most NBA players the decision will really be about the money. He just may be more naked about it.
Smith has a one-year option with the Knicks for next year at just a shade under $2.5 million. Conventional wisdom is that Smith would opt out of that deal because he could make more and get a longer-term deal, either with the Knicks (who can give him a 20 percent raise off that deal) or elsewhere.
A source told ESPN New York that Smith’s father, Earl, is going to make a strong case for his son to stay in New York, but “it’s very clear that the money is the biggest factor with him.”
In fact, when Smith chose the Knicks over the Clippers in mid-February after coming back from China, a source said the Knicks’ higher offer ($2.443 million to the Clippers’ $1.4 million veteran’s minimum) was the deciding factor because he was financially broke. Therefore, Smith will likely opt out and ask for the 20 percent raise. At that point, the ball will be in the Knicks’ court to re-sign Smith, who’s already said publicly that he wants to return next season.
Smith has earned $25.7 million in salary over his eight year NBA career, plus picked up a reported $3 million playing in China during the lockout.
I imagine we will hear a denial to the report soon, but it would explain the decision to play for guaranteed money during the lockout when the NBA was no sure thing.
This also means you can bet Smith opts out and if another team steps forward with $3 million a year or more they can get him. Smith runs a bit hot and cold on the court, but at that price is still a bargain. Either way, expect him to opt out.