Free Agents NY Knicks Can't Afford to Lose This Offseason

Michael PerchickCorrespondent IMay 4, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01:  J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks argues a call during Game five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on May 1, 2013 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

With the New York Knicks advancing to the second round of the playoffs on the heels of a 54-win regular season, Knicks fans may not be so quick to look towards next season.

But have no fear, Knicks fans, there won't be much of a need to go out and get new jerseys—the majority of the Knicks are under contract for next season.

While this is admittedly a concern for a veteran-laden team, especially off a (hopefully) deep playoff run, the success the Knicks have enjoyed this season bodes well for the 2013-14 season.

The main Knick free agent whose contract is up at the end of the season is NBA Sixth Man of The Year J.R. Smith.  

Smith, who has a player option for $2.5 million at the end of the season, will most likely opt out to seek more money.  For comparison's sake, Jamal Crawford, the runner-up to Smith in the sixth man voting, made $5.25 million this season with the Clippers.  Add in that Crawford is six years older than Smith, and it's certainly conceivable that J.R. receives an offer in the $8 million range.

Realistically, that's a bit out of the Knicks' price range.  We saw the Dolans not re-sign Jeremy Lin in light of the "poison pill" third year on Lin's contract, and opposing teams know the Knicks' backs are against the wall when it comes to the luxury tax.

But can the Knicks really afford to lose J.R.?  

Outside of Carmelo, he's the best Knick at creating his own shot. He's entering the prime of his career and missed only the last two games of the season this year once the Knicks clinched.  When you take into account the injury woes that have caught Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, as well as the age concerns associated with Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd, can the Knicks watch their Iron Man leave?

The Knicks are banking on Smith being happy in New York, being a local kid (from New Jersey) and taking a lot less money that he'd get on the open market.

The $4 million given to Steve Novak looks foolish now, as does the $3 million due to Marcus Camby.  That's essentially $7 million given to a one-skill player (Novak), and an aging veteran who hardly played this season (Camby).  If the Knicks can move either of those players (even if it costs them a pick), it would be worth it to help free up money for Smith.

Chris Copeland was a big surprise for the Knicks this season, as the 28-year old rookie averaged 8.7 points per game in just over 15 minutes a night.  While he's a defensive liability, Copeland has shown that he can score in bunches, and the 6'8", 225-pound forward can certainly be an asset in this league.  

After making only $473,604 (the league minimum), expect Copeland to cash in with another team.  While the Knicks would love to have him back, coach Mike Woodson has been hesitant to play him big minutes due to his defensive inadequacies.  

Kenyon Martin, who was signed to a pair of 10-day contracts and then eventually for the rest of the season, has stepped up at the end of the season, and his toughness inside has helped fuel the Knicks.

At 35 years old, there are serious questions about if Martin will be able to hold up over the course of a full season.  He hasn't played more than 58 games in a season since 2008-09 and has missed at least 11 games in all but two seasons of his NBA career (2001-02, 2002-03).  

Considering the retirement of Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby's ineffectiveness/injuries and Kurt Thomas' release, there is clearly a need for Martin.  He deserves more than the veteran minimum, but his injury history and age should be taken into account in any contract.

James "Flight" White is also a free agent, and while he's shown some defensive tenacity in his limited time, he's hardly a can't-miss player.  His offensive repertoire is still developing.  He's an excellent athlete, but he's struggled to break the Knicks rotation.  Anything more than the minimum is overpaying for White. 

Finally, the (very) newly signed Quentin Richardson is well aware that he's hitched a ride on the Knicks express.  Signed with a game to go in the season, Richardson did see quite a bit of playing time in the regular-season finale, shooting 1-of-11 from the field while going for five points and 10 rebounds in just under 29 minutes.  

The 33-year-old veteran is not as good of a shooter for his career as given credit for (39.7 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from three), and he's also struggled with injuries.  Don't expect him back.  

Essentially, what you see is what you're going to get with the Knicks.  They don't exactly have a ton of cap room to make major moves, a lot of moveable contracts or players coming off the books this year. 


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