Thanks to some tremendous reporting from the New York Times’ Howard Beck, we have learned that the New York Knicks have signed J.R. Smith to a three-year $17.95 million deal, in which the third year – valued at $6.4 million – is a player option, rather than the four-year $24.5 million deal that was widely reported.
This is some welcomed news, especially considering the fact that the Knicks just announced that J.R. Smith underwent some (major) knee surgery. For the past 24-hours, the Knicks have been receiving critical feedback to their signing of J.R. Smith, as reports informed us that the Knicks were aware of the severeness of J.R. Smith’s injury. Many wondered why the Knicks would sign J.R. Smith for the maximum salary and number of years allowed under the CBA, knowing what they knew.
Well, even though they were aware of his injury, the money the Knicks could allocate to J.R. Smith could not have been used on another player. With that said, the Knicks shouldn’t have been criticized for the monetary value of the deal, but rather the length. Over the next two years, the Knicks’ salary will go well over the salary cap, so it doesn’t matter how much they pay J.R., but with a ‘chronic’ injury in his knee, it didn’t seem wise to give J.R. Smith $6+ million the following two years — two seasons in which the Knicks do not have much salary committed.
Hopefully J.R. Smith will rehab from this injury well and contribute to the Knicks as if no injury had ever happened, but it’s re-assuring to see the Knicks limited the damage to three years, should J.R. Smith’s injury get so bad he’s not worth the money in year three. If the third year was a team option, this would be one of my favorite deals in recent memory, but we can’t get that greedy now, can we?