Report: Retaining J.R. Smith Is Knicks’ No. 1 Priority

NBA's Sixth Man Of The Year To Hit Free Agency
J.R. Smith (credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

J.R. Smith (credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith has informed the New York Knicks that he will decline the option in his contract for next season and become a free agent.

A team spokesman also said Tuesday the Knicks extended a qualifying offer to forward Chris Copeland, making him a restricted free agent and allowing them to match any offer he receives.

Smith’s decision was not a surprise given that he can make much more than the $2.9 million he was scheduled to earn next season.

Retaining him is the team’s “top offseason priority,” according to ESPN.

The New Jersey product is happy in New York and is a longtime teammate of Carmelo Anthony so he would likely want to stay with the right offer.

Smith averaged 18.1 points in 80 regular-season games but his horrendous 29 percent shooting and poor decisions over the final eight postseason games could scare off potential suitors.

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