TUESDAY, 7:55am: A source who spoke with WTHR.com and former Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz denied that the talks have taken place (Twitter link).
MONDAY, 8:08am: The Knicks and Pacers have had discussions recently about a swap of J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post. Still, Knicks team president Phil Jackson isn’t planning on making any trades between now and December 15th, the date that most players who signed this offseason become eligible to be traded, Berman hears. A Smith-Copeland trade could nonetheless take place immediately, since both remained with their teams over the offseason, but a one-for-one exchange of the pair wouldn’t satisfy the league’s salary-matching requirements. Such a swap would also put the Pacers over the luxury tax line, so Indiana would no doubt insist on sending out more salary in any such deal.
Smith has frequently found his way into trade talk since his profound regression last season after winning the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year award. A report in July indicated the Knicks were open to trading Smith, along with fellow guards Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin, not long after Smith said he wouldn’t blame the Knicks if they traded him on the heels of his subpar performance in 2013/14. Moving the enigmatic 29-year-old would further Jackson’s goal of clearing salary cap flexibility for the coming summer, since Smith has a nearly $6.4MM player option for 2015/16 while Copeland is on an expiring contract. Smith makes more than $5.982MM this season while Copeland earns $3.135MM.
The 30-year-old Copeland made his mark with the Knicks in 2012/13, earning a spot on the regular season roster as a training camp invitee and nailing 42.1% of his three-point attempts in 15.4 minutes per game that season. He moved to Indiana in free agency the following summer, but the Pacers buried him on their bench, as he made just 41 regular season appearances and notched only 6.5 MPG last season. Copeland is averaging 30.3 MPG on Indiana’s depleted roster so far this year. Smith would ostensibly give the Pacers more scoring punch, though he’s only averaging 11.7 points per 36 minutes during the opening week of 2014/15, compared to Copeland’s 19.0.