The Knicks are making every effort to maximize 2015 cap space.
So you better believe they want to dump J.R. Smith before he can exercise his $6,399,750 player option for 2015-16.
One of president Phil Jackson’s big decisions this season is whether to trade J.R. Smith, and the club had recent conversations with the Pacers regarding ex-Knick Chris Copeland, according to a league source.
According to a source, Jackson has no plans to make any deals until Dec. 15 — a key NBA date as 2014 free-agent signees and 2014 draft picks are eligible to be traded.
A Copeland-Smith trade wouldn’t work under the CBA, though adding C.J. Watson’s expiring contract would make the trade allowable.
The bigger issue: Copeland is on a more team-friendly contract than Smith and arguably better on the court. The early returns on Copeland, playing a bigger role with the Pacers, are positive. He’s averaging 16.0 points per game this season.
If the Knicks don’t want Smith’s contract, why would Indiana? His scoring could help a team that lost Paul George and Lance Stephenson, but the Pacers probably aren’t reaching the playoffs this season anyway. Rating above a few other lottery teams isn’t worth the 2015-16 cap hit.
Smith isn’t a good fit in the triangle offense, and his contract will be a burden this summer. Don’t be surprised if his name pops up often in trade rumors this season.
But Phil Jackson will have to aim a little lower.