Earl Smith Expects J.R. Will Opt Out of Knicks Deal

Earl Smith expects J.R. Smith to opt out of his Knicks’ deal and test free agency this summer.

The elder Smith made the comments to the New York Post, confirming an earlier report by Moke Hamilton of SheridanHoops.com.

“It depends on what’s on the table,” the elder Smith told the Post. “He’s already taken a lot less the last two years to play here. Whatever the decision, I support. I would love for him to be here but I have my other two sons here.” One of those sons is Chris Smith, who hopes to make the Knicks roster next season after rehabbing a torn patella tendon earlier this year.

Because J.R. Smith will have Early-Bird rights, the most the Knicks can offer the newly-minted NBA Sixth Man of the Year is a four-year deal beginning at $4.9 million per season. But the Knicks can be outbid by teams below the salary cap.

Smith is making $2.8 this season, compared with the $4.05 million Steve Novak is making.

Novak has made one field goal in the series, while Smith is averaging 17 points in the series.

Earl Smith’s comments confirm a report from SheridanHoops.com after the Knicks’ victory over the Celtics in Game 2 in which a source said Smith is “very, very likely” to opt out.

“I’m not really worried about it right now,” J.R. said Tuesday when he won the Sixth Man Award. “I’m worried about playing for the New York Knicks…against Boston. When that time comes I’ll worry about it when it comes.”

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