Perhaps the most unlikely success this season in the NBA was enjoyed by 29-year-old Knicks rookie Chris Copeland, who stuck with the team all season after arriving at training camp with no guaranteed deal. His 13 points helped spark New York's win in Game Five against the Pacers last night, and agent John Spencer is hoping to turn his surprising performance this season into a financial windfall for his client. Spencer said Copeland wants to find a way to stay with the Knicks, but "wants to get paid" as well.
Zwerling hears three teams are interested in negotiating with Copeland when he becomes a restricted free agent on July 1st. A source told Marc Berman of the New York Post that Copeland may seek a contract similar to Steve Novak's four-year, $16MM deal in the offseason, and Spencer says the same to Zwerling, envisioning the 6'9" forward's value to merit an annual salary between $3.5MM and $5MM.
Copeland is on a minimum-salary deal this year, making just $473,604, plus whatever his playoff share from New York's run will be. The Knicks, a luxury tax team, could use his Non-Bird rights to give him $988,872, the amount of his qualifying offer. They could also use their taxpayer's mid-level exception to give him up to $3,182,700, but, as our Luke Adams wrote today, that would preclude the Knicks from signing many free agents from other teams.
As Zwerling notes, the Knicks have plenty of decisions to make regarding free agents this summer, with Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith topping that list. Knicks point guard Pablo Prigioni is in a situation identical to Copeland's, though his age (36) may make him less attractive on the market. He's hinted that he may return overseas next season, but the native of Argentina has also expressed a desire to re-sign with the Knicks.