Around this time last year, J.R. Smith was headed to play for Zhejiang Chouzhou in China, where he was off-limits to NBA teams for much of the season. He came back for the stretch run with the Knicks, and his performance was sufficient for him to turn down a $2.339MM option and re-sign with the team this summer on a two-year deal that gives him a raise, to $2.806MM this season. When Smith re-upped with the Knicks in July, Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors speculated that he might opt out again next summer, which his deal allows him to do, and take advantage of the Early Bird rights he will have earned with the Knicks to get yet another raise. The 26-year-old shooting guard spoke about his value as a player and touched on other topics with Josh Newman of SNY.tv. The entire piece is worth a read, but we'll run down Smith's comments here.
On his contract:
“I think anything is a bargain with me, whether I’m playing for a dollar or $20MM, it’s a bargain because I’m going to play hard no matter what. No matter how much I get paid, it will never affect how hard I play and I think that should be thought about when people see me next year.”
About Jeremy Lin:
“I was on the outside looking in waiting for my deal to get done during that whole thing and just see what pieces we would pick up instead of Jeremy Lin. We got some good pieces. Jeremy is a good player, he was good to me and I have nothing bad to say about him. I wish him the best of luck, but we’re gonna kick their ass next year.”
On playing with Carmelo Anthony:
“Me and Melo have been on the same team for the last six years and ever since we’ve been together, I feel like we’ve had a championship-caliber team. It’s just a matter going out there, passing the ball, playing defense and playing team basketball.”