Knicks

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)

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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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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)