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Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Should the Knicks re-sign J.R.?

By Ian Begley

J.R. Smith will decline his player option and test free-agency this summer.

Re-signing Smith will be one of the Knicks' top priorities. Several teams, though, will likely be interested in the sixth-man's services.

JR Smith
Will J.R. Smith be a Knick next season?
And the Knicks will be limited in what they can offer.

So there's no guarantee that Smith returns to New York next season.

Do you think the Knicks should do everything they can to bring Smith back, or would you be OK with letting him walk?

Below, we will spell out the implications of Smith re-signing with the Knicks, and Smith signing elsewhere.

IF HE SIGNS: The Knicks can re-sign Smith for $4.9 million using the Early Bird exception, with standard raises over four years. They cannot exceed this offer.

Teams with salary cap space can offer a richer contract. So Smith may have to leave money on the table to return to New York.

If the Knicks re-sign Smith, the $4.9 million added to their books simply increases the team's luxury tax bill. If they don't spend the $4.9 million on Smith, it doesn't mean they can spend the money on another free agent.

So, basically, it's either Smith or nothing.

For those of you who hope Smith walks, the sentence above is key.

Smith is also the best secondary-scoring option for the Knicks.

So to let him walk without a replacement in mind would be foolish.

The only known benefit to letting Smith go would be to cut $2.8 million from payroll and reduce the Knicks' tax bill. Cutting $2.8 million from the payroll would also make it more feasible to swing a sign-and-trade (the Knicks can execute this if they are under the yet-to-be-determined tax apron after the deal). But not by much.

IF HE WALKS: If Smith signs with another team, the Knicks will be left without last season's second-best scorer.

Sure, Smith struggled mightily in the postseason. But there were many nights last year when he was the most indispensable Knick, so replacing Smith will be difficult.

Can you count on Amar'e Stoudemire to pick up the scoring slack if Smith skips town?

What about Iman Shumpert? He is making great strides on offense but is it fair to expect him to score 18 points a night?

If you don't think either player can replace Smith's scoring, then the Knicks would need to find a secondary scorer via free-agency or the draft. And that's unlikely.

New York will have the mini mid-level exception and veteran's minimum contracts to offer free-agents. It's hard to see a top-tier player settling for that type of contract.

Smith has his flaws -- shot selection among them -- but we think he's the Knicks' best option this summer.

What about you? Do you think the Knicks should make every effort to re-sign J.R. Smith or should they let him walk?

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