Fresh off his stint playing in China, former Denver Nugget JR Smith is ready to rejoin the NBA. If Twitter profiles mean anything, Smith is considering the Knicks, Lakers, and Clippers. And even with that dwindling list that once had the Magic, Bulls, and Pacers, ESPN Los Angeles is reporting that Smith will eventually sign with either the Knicks or the Clippers with the Knicks being the favorite.
The Knicks remain the presumptive favorites to sign Smith because they can offer him a pro-rated share of their $2.5 million mini-midlevel exception and a player option for a second year. The Clippers, meanwhile, can offer him only the veteran’s minimum for the rest of this season.
While Smith would likely make far more than $2.5 million as an unrestricted free agent this summer, the security of that player option for next season could be an important factor in his decision, according to a source.
Smith was due to fly back to the United States from China late Wednesday night. He had been expected to make a decision on Tuesday, according to two league sources, but has yet to choose. Now the process could drag out a bit.
The best fit is definitely the Clippers. Going to the Knicks sounds good, but there is only one ball. Carmelo already has to contend with Jeremy Lin blowing up, there’s no way another “chucker” can work on that team.
If he were to join the Clippers, he instantly steps into a much needed role because of the injury of Chauncey Billups. But money talks and the Knicks can pay him more of it. And seeing as though his contract will be pro-rated, the money will definitely be a big determining factor.