The rumor train carrying New York's free agents made some progress overnight. Barring something unexpected (which you can never, ever bar with the Knicks), it looks like a couple will return and one is almost certainly gone. What we've heard:
- J.R. Smith met with the Knicks all day yesterday to discuss a new contract. When we got word last night, it sounded like the hands were about to shake, but as of this morning, they're not there yet and probably won't be for a day or so. The reasons for the delay are, according to Marc Berman and his source, Mr. Earl Smith: 1. The lawyers involved don't want to work on July 4, which is totally fine with me because I also don't want to work on July 4. 2. Dad Smith still thinks another team might swoop in with an offer of up to $10 million per year.
New York's offer to J.R. will be somewhere between two and four years (a crucial distinction, but still not totally figured out) and league-average salary-- $5.something million per year. If, indeed, someone's going to offer J.R. $10 million, then bless 'em and godspeed to J.R. However, given what players of J.R.'s vague caliber (there's no one quite like J.R., for better or worse) are getting, a team would have to be desperate if not borderline manic to make that offer. And the most desperate (mediocre) teams-- Berman names Detroit, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Milwaukee-- appear to have lost interest. The Smiths also seem to be waiting on a Dwight Howard decision, thinking his destination may leave a different team (Houston or Dallas) with a bunch of money to spend, but I don't think that's a worthwhile wait. Though again, if J.R. can get $10 million from someone, I salute him.
I think J.R. Smith is coming back to the Knicks, and I think the only major uncertainty at this point is how long of a contract the Knicks will give him. If the Andrea Bargnani trade was part of a plan, then it would make the most sense for the Knicks to come away with a two-year deal for J.R., since 2015 is looking like the next target date for some cap space. It may have to be a four-year deal, though, because that's just what it takes to get J.R. Smith and his favorable, cap-excepted salary back and because plans are for sissies anyway.
Oh, and if Berman is to be believed, Chris Smith is about to be back in our lives-- like even beyond Summer League-- very soon. There were previous reports that the Knicks wouldn't sign Chrismith for real real no matter what, but...negotiations are negotiations, and when Dad gets involved...
- Moving on, it seems the Knicks have a deal in place for Pablo Prigioni, which just makes me whimper with joy. Julian Mozo of Olé (so he would know) reports the following:
("The Knicks' offer to Pablo Prigioni, according to reports from New York and Argentina, would be for two years and $2.5 million.")
Berman calls it a two-year deal in the "$2.3 million range", which means it is a significant chunk of the mini MLE. If Prigioni accepts that (and folks are talking about it like they expect him to do so, which again makes me so happy I want to cry), it will all but seal the departure of...
- ...Chris Copeland, who, as Berman and others report, has at least one offer sheet coming soon that will far exceed what the Knicks can match. That is what it is. I love Cope, I wish more than anything the Knicks could keep him, but the way New York's financial planning shook out, there just wasn't going to be enough money to bring everyone back. Given a choice between Prigioni and Copeland, I'm happy the Knicks are leaning toward Prigioni. Depending on the kind of offer sheet Cope's about to get, though, it might not really be a choice.
- No real discussin' has been done with Kenyon Martin, but the Knicks are "interested". It sounds like they prefer Elton Brand to Martin-- and are blowing his phone up accordingly-- but reports from the last few days make a Brand signing sound unlikely. We shall see.
Those seem to be New York's projects for the time being. Everything else is just "interest" at the moment. Remember, agreements can be made whenever, but pen can't actually be put to paper until July 10. I'm hopeful we can have a quiet July 4 free of fretting about the Knicks, but I will certainly post updates if I find anything. Have a lovely holiday. <3
Update (9:34 AM):
The Knicks continue to pursue Sebastian Telfair, according to sources. Not only did they reach out to his camp, they spoke to him directly.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 4, 2013
Update (10:09 AM):
Breaking: The Knicks and J.R. Smith agree to a new deal, Smith's agent, Leon Rose, tells the Daily News.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) July 4, 2013