Coming off a career-best season and a Sixth Man of the Year award, J.R. Smith will have the option of hitting free agency this summer, and it sounds like he'll take advantage of that opportunity. Moke Hamilton of SheridanHoops.com hears from a source close to Smith that the Knicks shooting guard is "very, very likely" to turn down his 2013/14 option and become a free agent.
Because New York only held Smith's Non-Bird rights last offseason, the team was only able to sign him to a contract that started at about $2.81MM this season. That makes Smith's player option for '13/14 worth only about $2.93MM, a figure he could easily exceed on the open market.
As we explained earlier today, and as Hamilton details in his piece, the Knicks will hold Smith's Early Bird rights this summer, meaning the team will be able to offer him a deal of up to four years, starting at a salary that figures to be in the neighborhood of $5.5MM. That will exceed the amount of the mid-level exception, meaning the Knicks should be able to outbid over-the-cap teams, though Smith could receive stronger offers from clubs with cap room.
Still, Smith has frequently expressed a desire to remain in New York, suggesting on Monday that he'd like to retire as a Knick. He was willing to accept a below-market salary to stay with the team last summer, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him do it again this year.