By Matt Moore | NBA writer
The New York Daily News reports and Yahoo confirms the New York Knicks are close to getting their Sixth Man of the Year back in uniform, and this time, it's for the long term.
J. R. Smith and the Knicks are finalizing a contract extension that will keep the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year with the club for another four years.
According to a Knicks source, the deal could be completed by Thursday.
Smith is expected to receive the “average player salary exception,” which could amount to $24 million over four seasons.
That's $6 million per season, or as I've come to call it, the Michael Beasley Line, after the Suns signed Beasley to a three-year, $18-million deal last summer. Smith is a better player than Beasley, to be sure, and he was the Sixth Man of the Year last season. So this has to be great value, right?
Smith averaged 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists last season on 42 percent shooting, with a 17.6 PER. From Dec. 1 through March 15, he shot just 39.5 percent. The good news is that in the playoffs, the Knicks' essential, free-to-fire gunner shot 33 percent, with 157 points on 163 shots.
So there's that.
The New York Post reports that the deal is still being negotiated, and could wind up with a much more reasonable deal:
The Knicks had talked to Smith about a two-year package (worth roughly $11.5M). After the two years are up, Smith could then re-sign with the Knicks with full Bird rights and get a maximum contract.
But Smith is who the Knicks wanted, he's part of their plan, and with no cap space, they needed to get a shooter. So they re-sign Smith and make another run with last year's team, plus Andrea Bargnani.
The possibiliy of a Prigioni-Smith-Melo-Bargnani-Stoudemire lineup is worth the price of admission to any Knicks game.