Brother thinks J.R. Smith will stay

Updated: July 3, 2012, 12:39 PM ET
By Jared Zwerling | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

Chris Smith, the younger brother of J.R. Smith, believes the New York Knicks shooting guard will return to the team next season.

"He loves New York," Chris told ESPN New York by phone on Monday night while playing golf with J.R. in Los Angeles. "He's looking for a great situation, and whatever suits him right, that's what he'll do. The main thing is him being happy; that's all that really matters. But if I had to put a guess on it, he'll be back in New York."

Knicks GM Glen Grunwald said on the night of the NBA draft that his priority is re-signing not only Smith, but Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and Landry Fields.

"We want to keep both (Lin and Novak) and keep Landry and J.R.," Grunwald said on Thursday night. "They're all valuable players and we're going to try to keep all four of them. We have some (recruiting) plans. We've been in contact with our own free agents and they've expressed their desire to come back. They know we love them and want them. We'll do the negotiating and hopefully it all works out."

Even though J.R. declined his player option of $2.4 million on June 26, he can re-sign with the Knicks at 120 percent of his previous year's salary using a non-Bird exception (about $2.8 million). The Knicks could also use their midlevel exception of $3.09 million to secure Smith, but they'd likely want to spend that on a veteran point guard. Steve Nash and Raymond Felton appear to be the two most popular names on the Knicks' radar.

J.R., along with Chris, has been training on UCLA's campus with his Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. As for Chris Smith, the former Louisville point guard went undrafted, but he will be playing with the Knicks' summer league team in Las Vegas starting on July 13. The Knicks are in the market for point guards, the weakest position on their depth chart.

"I feel like this is probably one of the best opportunities I have in my life," Chris Smith said. "When I went to Louisville, nobody expected me to really do anything, contribute, so this is kind of a similar situation. I'm just really looking forward to it."

If the Knicks don't work out for Chris Smith -- they were the only team that worked him out during the pre-draft process and gave him a shot this offseason -- he'll explore overseas opportunities. One destination could be China, where J.R. played from 2011 to '12 before he signed with the Knicks in February.

Jared Zwerling is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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