New York Knicks: Why J.R. Smith Could Be the Smartest Signing of the Offseason

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIISeptember 15, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17:  J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks reacts after scoring a three pointer against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Under the ownership of James Dolan, the New York Knicks have really built a bad image for themselves when it comes to making offseason moves.

From trading for Eddy Curry to showing way too much faith in Jerome James, the Knicks have made some terrible moves over the last decade, making them the laughingstock of the basketball world.

This offseason, though, it appears that things have been a little different for the Knicks, who have made a number of savvy moves to build a strong supporting cast around Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.

The Knicks' front office showed a lot of restraint in not matching the Houston Rockets' inflated offer for Jeremy Lin, and gave up very little in trading for new starting point guard Raymond Felton.

But of all the nice moves the Knicks have made this summer under Glen Grunwald, the re-signing of J.R. Smith could end up as the best of all.

Back in July, the Knicks gave Smith a one-year, $2.8 million deal, with a player option for a second year, despite worries that he could look for more money elsewhere.

For starters, bringing in a player of Smith's quality for so little money in a league in which so many players are overpaid is unbelievable.

Smith isn't perfect—his shot selection in particular is awful at times—but there is no denying that he could earn a lot more money out on the free-agent market.

Inferior players like Omer Asik, Jamal Crawford and J.J Hickson were all given much more money this offseason, which really puts this move in a positive light.

More to the point, re-signing Smith also saved the Knicks from having to use their mid-level exception on his replacement, allowing them to keep the money to bring in future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd instead.

Had Smith left, the Knicks would likely have also been forced to match the Toronto Raptors' ridiculous $20 million offer for Landry Fields, which would have completely changed the direction of their offseason.

Next year, Smith and the Knicks will be in the same situation again; with Smith being at a crossroads as to whether or not to accept his player option or to go out and get his money in free agency.

This time around, though, the Knicks will have Smith's Bird rights, allowing the team to go over the cap to sign him, and J.R. will have the best of both worlds—staying in New York and getting paid.

The chance to get big money from the Knicks in 2013 will also act as motivation for Smith, which will ensure that the Knicks will get the very best out of him all season long.

It sounds like that motivation is already seeping through, with J.R. guaranteeing a championship next season (via The New York Post):

A championship. Nothing less. If we settle for anything less, we already start off losing.

For all his faults, Smith is a player who loves playing for the Garden crowd, and 2012-13 could be the season in which he finally makes good on his unlimited offensive talent.