Several Teams Eyeing J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland

June 26 2013 at 8:51pm CST By Chuck Myron

8:51pm: Zwerling and ESPN colleague Chris Broussard add the Suns to the list of teams interested in Smith, while the Mavs, Pacers, Lakers, Thunder, Raptors, Jazz and Wizards are in the market for Copeland, according to their report. 

7:36pm: The Bucks have strong interest in J.R. Smith, and they're also interested in fellow Knicks free agent Chris Copeland, tweets Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com. Milwaukee will have plenty of cap space, presuming the team doesn't re-sign many of its own free agents, so Milwaukee can outbid New York. 

Fellow ESPNNewYork.com scribe Ian Begley noted Milwaukee's interest in Smith last night, pointing to the Pistons as another team eyeing the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. It's unclear whether the interest from either Smith or Copeland is mutual. Both have spoken about their desire to remain in New York, though John Spencer, Copeland's agent, said in May that money would be a key for his client this summer.

The taxpaying Knicks have Early Bird rights on Smith, but that limits them to a four year deal with a starting salary at either 175% of his previous salary, which would be $5,132,298, or 104.5% of the league average salary, whichever is greater. We won't know the league's official average salary calculation until July, but it's expected to be around that same amount.

While Smith is an unrestricted free agent, Copeland is on the restricted market, meaning the Knicks have the right to match offers after having extended him a qualifying offer today, worth $988,872 for one year. Copeland is a Non-Bird free agent, and the best the Knicks could do for him would be a four-year deal starting at $3.183MM via the taxpayer's mid-level exception. If the Knicks somehow find a way to dip below the tax apron, which appears unlikely, New York could get help via the Gilbert Arenas Provision, which limits other teams to offers with a starting salary of no more than the non-taxpayer's mid-level. The Pelicans are another team that's shown interest in the forward who's coming off a surprisingly impressive rookie year.

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