3:00pm: Speaking to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, agent John Spencer confirmed that the Pelicans have interest in his client and said he expects other teams to show interest as well. But that doesn't necessarily mean Copeland will leave the Knicks, according to Spencer.
"He turned down a lot of money to play in New York last year," Spencer said. "It would not surprise me if Chris turned down a lot of money to stay in New York. It’s really about circumstances and situations."
The Knicks extended a qualifying offer to Copeland earlier today, officially making him a restricted free agent.
8:22am: Having only signed a one-year deal with the Knicks last summer, Chris Copeland will become a free agent this summer, less than a year after making his NBA debut. And according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, at least one team is planning to make a "strong bid" for Copeland. Berman reports that the Pelicans are expected to pursue Copeland in July.
Because Copeland has just been in the NBA for a year, the Knicks will have the opportunity to extend a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent. However, because New York is in the tax, the team is expected to only have the mini mid-level exception (starting at about $3.18MM) available to match any rival offer sheets for the 29-year-old.
Armed with plenty of cap space, the Pelicans would be able to make Copeland an offer the Knicks are unable to match. Berman reported last month that Copeland would likely be seeking "Steve Novak money," or about $4MM per year on a long-term deal. If New Orleans was to meet that reported asking price, the Knicks wouldn't have the means to match the Pelicans' offer.
According to Berman, Pacers president Donnie Walsh also has interest in Copeland. The Pacers don't figure to have as much financial flexibility as the Pelicans, but they could have the full $5.15MM mid-level exception available, so they'd also be able to outbid the Knicks.
Even if Copeland receives an offer sheet for a starting salary that the Knicks could match (ie. $2-3MM), it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team let him walk. By not committing their MLE to Copeland, the Knicks would be able to use it on Pablo Prigioni or an outside free agent.