While his twitter feed may be giving clues to his future NBA home in real time (he’s now down to three listed in his bio), ESPN is reporting that the two front runners for Smith’s services are the Knicks and the Clippers – both for completely different reasons.
The main lure of the Knicks, aside from the presumed attraction of playing close to home, is that they can pay Smith the most right from the jump – a pro-rated share of their $2.5 million mini-midlevel exception and a player option for a second year.
The interest in the Clippers is rooted in other factors (they can only pay him the veteran’s minimum for the rest of the season). In the wake of the loss of Chauncey Billups, there is the lure of immediate, guaranteed minutes and shots. In theory, there should be shots in NYC as well, but there is so much the Knicks have to figure out once Carmelo comes back, there are no guarantees as to how Smith’s role would play out.
Another point of attraction for the Clips has to be the vocal recruitment from former teammate Chris Paul. ‘Melo has been recruiting him as well, but there’s a huge difference between the two – playing alongside CP3 will add to your stats as you enter free agency looking for a payday. It also should not be overlooked that Smith is tight with the Clips’ Kenyon Martin.
Either way, expect a decision quickly from Smith. As this ESPN.com report points out, J.R. is losing money by the day:
Each day that goes by is lost money for Smith. New York’s $2.5 million mid-level exception will be pro-rated by each game missed after Feb. 10. All other contracts are pro-rated from the beginning of the season, meaning the gap between what the Knicks can offer and a pro-rated veteran minimum actually will narrow as time goes on.
Where will J.R. Smith end up?
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