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J.R. Smith signed a two-year, $5.7 million extension with the New York Knicks in the summer of 2012, but his excellent play makes it likely he will decline the second-year player option and test the free-agent waters.
Firmly entrenched as New York's sixth man, Smith is averaging 16.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 41.5 percent shooting overall and 36 percent from three-point territory. He is one of the leading candidates for Sixth Man of the Year and the Knicks' second-leading scorer.
Smith clearly fits with the city of New York, and the crowd has embraced him, but his stellar performance early in the season means he has the chance to earn some serious money in free agency. This could be one of his last chances to receive a hefty long-term contract as he is still in his prime.
One issue for Smith going forward will be getting his shots. With Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert sidelined, Smith was the clear second option on offense, jacking up as many shots as he wanted to.
However, with Stat and Shumpert back, his touches and minutes should decrease somewhat.
Obviously the Knicks would love to retain him, but with so much of their money tied up in the huge deals of Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, it might prove difficult.
There is a chance Smith remains in New York, but it is by no means a guarantee as he will garner some serious interest.