Report: Knicks, Pacers talked J.R. Smith-Chris Copeland trade

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The Knicks are making every effort to maximize 2015 cap space.

They convinced Carmelo Anthony to take a smaller raise. They didn’t give Iman Shumpert a contract extension. They even declined Shane Larkin’s third-year team option, a rare move.

So you better believe they want to dump J.R. Smith before he can exercise his $6,399,750 player option for 2015-16.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

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.