Report: As expected. J.R. Smith will opt out of last year of contract

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After a campaign that landed him the Sixth Man of the Year award, J.R. Smith wants to get paid.

As has been expected, the Knicks ‘s swingman is going to opt out of the last year of his deal worth $2.9 million, reports Jared Zwerling at ESPNNewYork.com.

J.R. Smith will not opt in with the New York Knicks, declining his player option of $2.9 million, a league source confirmed with ESPNNewYork.com….

Another league source said it’s “likely” Smith will re-sign with the Knicks come free agency (starting July 1), putting their roster at eight players under contract for next season.

The Knicks have Smith’s Early Bird rights, meaning they can offer him a contract of 175 percent of his last salary or 104.5 percent of the league average salary, whichever is larger. In this case, that would be the league average number, which should be just north of $5 million a year. The contract has to be for at least two years and could be up to four.

It is possible another team with cap space could come in over the top and offer Smith a $6 million a year contract or more, but that is unlikely.

Nobody really expects Smith to leave the Knicks. However, if the Knicks to do this to re-sign Smith and are forced to use their tax-payer’s mid-level exception of just more than $3 million to keep Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland, they would only be able to bring in free agent players for the veteran minimum after that.