Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 6/26/12


Knicks swingman J.R. Smith has until today to exercise (or decline) his player option to remain with the team next season.

Howard Beck of The New York Times reports that Smith will in fact opt out of his current contact, but still hopes to sign a new one to keep him in New York.

By opting out, the eight-year veteran not only stands to receive a 20% raise, but also sign a long-term contract with the Knicks. According to Beck, the team would be able to offer Smith a four-year contract worth approximately $12.2 million without dipping into their Midlevel Exception. Instead, New York will own "non-Bird Rights" for his new potential contract.

Smith averaged 12.5 points, 3.9 boards, and 1.5 steals in 35 contests for the Knicks after returning to the NBA following a stint in China. He provided a big boost off the pine, serving as a headlining attraction of the Knicks' own bench production, also known as "Mobb Deep." What's more, though Coach Mike Woodson chose to publicly discipline him often, the two built rapport this past season, with Woodson favoring Smith due to his defensive prowess.

As the ultimate X-Factor, Smith elevated his team and electrified the Garden crowd on a nightly basis. That said, the hot and cold nature to his game proved to be too inconsistent at times. Fans often saw the Knicks "ride or die" with Smith.

The veteran guard did sink the Knicks' ship quite a bit with his trigger happy shot selection, but when he was hot, there appeared to be no opponent who could stop him. Though he's been in the league for quite a while, Smith is only 26 years old and would seemingly still be entering his prime at the conclusion of a four-year pact. If he shows loyalty and re-signs with New York for the discounted rate (rather than seeking out the full MLE from another team), perhaps he's worth taking the risk on, given all the other factors going into the decision.

Smith admittedly enjoyed his time donning orange and blue, being able to also play with one of his best friends in Carmelo Anthony. He currently still resides in his hometown state of New Jersey. In addition to filling a key role for the Knicks, Smith reportedly enjoys playing so close to home and family.

For both the Knicks and Smith, the pros seem to outweigh the cons when it comes to continuing their union in New York. Should the Knicks value Smith over all other comparable options at his position, they can only hope the brights lights of the Big Apple appeal to Smith more than cash ever could.
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