The Knicks' top priority this offseason was re-signing swingman J.R. Smith to a new deal. The unrestricted free agent was garnering a good deal of interest on the open market but the Knicks and agent Leon Rose agreed to a four-year, $24.7MM deal on July 4th. Done deal, right? Not quite.
Soon after, it was revealed that Smith would have to undergo offseason knee surgery. Suddenly, what seemed like a no-brainer deal for the defending Sixth Man of the Year was no longer a slam dunk. The patellar tendon surgery and arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee will keep Smith out for at least the first few weeks of the 2013/14 season. After the news of the surgery was disclosed, Smith and Rose got the deal amended to a three-year, $17.95MM pact, which may be a positive for the Knicks, depending on how you look at it.
Yesterday, we learned that Smith will be out even longer than expected after being suspended for a drug violation. After his knee heals up, Smith will have to be sidelined for an additional five games and given Smith's reported proclivity for partying, one has to wonder if this could be a recurring issue.
By the same token, Smith is coming off of a career year in which he averaged 18.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.7 APG in 33.5 minutes per game off of the bench. It's not easy to find that kind of production elsewhere, especially when you don't have cap space to work with. All things considered, is Smith's three-year, $17.95MM deal a good idea for the Knicks?