Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 7/10/12


Have no fear: when Iman Shumpert returns from his knee injury in January, "Mobb Deep" will still be intact.

The Knicks continued to make offseason strides on Monday, not only luring back old fan-favorite Marcus Camby, but also agreeing to deals with both Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.

The team appeared to make re-signing both players (in addition to Jeremy Lin) a priority from the get go, but had a bumpy ride figuring out how it could be done.

When the dust cleared, however, it was determined that both Novak and Lin would retain their bird rights, making it much easier for New York to retain either, or both of them, for the right price. As for Smith, in addition to being able to secure a multi-year deal (if desired), he also stood to receive a 20% from last season on his next contract.

While Lin's fate with the team won't be revealed for a few days, the Knicks didn't cease going to work on new contracts for the other two. Novak will return to the Big Apple, following his breakout year, with a four-year contract worth $15 million. Receiving that mentioned raise, Smith will also return next season after agreeing to a one-year pact worth $2.8 million, with a player option for the following year.

Both Novak and Smith provided the Knicks with some much needed firepower off the bench during what was an exciting season.The two have complementary skills, with Novak able to spread the floor without the ball and Smith thriving on offensive with the rock in his hands. Smith can run the floor and pull up for a jumper, but should he not be open, Novak can often be found waiting around the perimeter to cash in on a sweet dime for a long-range bomb.

Though Novak is sure to continue pacing the team's second unit for quite a while, it's unclear what role Smith will be asked to fill next season. Despite his frustrating hot and cold streaks, the swingman is not only a strong offensive player, but also currently stands tall as the Knicks' best shooting guard.

By making the backup point guard and center positions higher priorities (and signing Jason Kidd and Camby to fill those voids), New York created a bit of a hole at shooting guard. Should the team opt not to match Landry Fields' offer sheet with the Raptors, Smith will be left to man the two-guard position, at least until Shumpert returns.

Perhaps the positives outweigh the negatives for the Knicks with Smith, providing them with enough faith in him to grant a much larger role.

It should be well-noted (and greatly appreciated by Knicks fans all around) the deals that both players took home are rather modest for players with their talent. Given the way NBA players are overpaid as teams attempt to outbid one another constantly, Novak and Smith each could've cashed in for more lucrative deals elsewhere. Instead, both are opting to stay in New York, not only to embrace the excitement and electricity that fills The Garden each and every night, but also for a better chance at a championship.

After watching the Miami Heat bring home the bacon just last month, it's surely still fresh in everyone's mind in New York what's needed to build a winner. Having depth from A to Z certainly helps a boatload, and both Novak and Smith more than begin to provide the Knicks with that.

By bringing back Novak and Smith, in addition to signing Kidd and Camby, have the Knicks done enough this offseason to make necessary improvements? Will they be able to compete with the team's elite teams, such as the Heat, Bulls, Thunder, and the re-emerging Lakers?

Much of that surely depends on Lin's fate with the team, but New York continues to make strong moves. With many assets and exceptions now gone, however, it'll be interesting to see how/if the team opts to address their void at shooting guard.
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