Report: J.R. Smith won’t pick up player option to return to Knicks, but team wants him back

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As expected, J.R. Smith will not be picking up his player option for next season, which will make him an unrestricted free agent.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be back with the Knicks; it just won’t be for only one year at $2.9 million.

From Al Innazzone of Newsday:

J.R. Smith will not pick up his $2.9-million option for the 2013-14 season, a person close to the valuable reserve said.

The deadline for Smith to inform the Knicks whether he will opt in is Tuesday. The Knicks weren’t expecting Smith to opt in after putting up career highs of 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds and winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award this past season. Smith struggled in the playoffs, but the Knicks’ plan is to try to keep him.

If Smith wants to stay in New York, he’ll likely have to take less money than he could command on the open market to do so.

The Knicks can only offer Smith around $5 million per year for at least two seasons, and teams could offer him a bigger role in the offense along with a longer-term deal to try to get him to jump.

But Smith has a strong relationship with Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, and enjoys playing in New York City — perhaps even a bit too much.

We’ve seen Smith be devastating offensively plenty over the course of his career, but last season (despite his playoff slump) was by far his most consistent. Teams will pay for that, and just how much will certainly be a factor in Smith’s free agent decision.