New York Knicks: Losing Chris Copeland Would be Devastating to Knicks

Thomas DuffyFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

Mar 18, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; New York Knicks small forward Chris Copeland (14) is introduced prior to a game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are on the verge of disaster. Chris Copeland, the 29-year-old rookie who had a breakout season in 2013, may not be back in New York next season.

Copeland is a restricted free agent, which means that the Knicks can match any offer that he receives from another team, but only up to about $3.18 million. That doesn’t bode well for the Knicks, as the New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly prepared to give the explosive scorer an offer that James Dolan won’t be able to handle, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

According to an NBA source, the newly named New Orleans Pelicans are planning to make a strong bid for the 6-foot-9 sniper as they are well under the salary cap and can make an offer that will blow Knicks owner James Dolan out of the water.

The Knicks can match any Copeland offer since he is a restricted free agent, but only up to $3.1 million — their mini mid-level exception. Since the Pelicans are under the cap, they can easily top that number.

Copeland wants to be a member of the Knicks next season, but it would appear that the possibility of that is becoming an unlikely one. The New York Post also reported that Copeland is looking to make “Steve Novak money,” which would be a four-year deal for about $16 million. If that is the case and he receives that kind of offer from the Pelicans, New York could be left helpless.

Copeland isn’t an All-Star, nor is he a franchise player in this league. What he is, though, is a game-changer—the dude can score.

Although he averaged just under nine points per game this season, Copeland had moments where he was absolutely unstoppable. If given more chances to shine from head coach Mike Woodson, Copeland would’ve shown what he was truly capable of doing.

But when he did get his chance, the rookie made the most of it. In his first season in the NBA, Copeland shot 42.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc and connected on 47.9 percent of his shots from the field.

Coming into 2013, the Knicks were giving a shot to a long-haired 28-year-old who had proved himself in the D-League as well as Euro leagues in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium after graduating from Colorado. There was really no signs that indicated that he would contribute to the team and make an impact in the way that he did.

Still, Copeland did his thing this season and earned every single dollar that he’ll earn in the coming years—he played his way into an NBA career.

Going into next season, the Knicks need Cope, and they need to do all that they can to keep him.

According to Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York, the team extended Copeland a qualifying offer worth just under $1 million for one year, but that offer gives the Knicks the ability to match offers from other potential suitors. In other words, if New York does indeed sign Copeland, it probably won’t be for the reported $988,872 that was originally offered.

Copeland would undoubtedly have an increased role on the Knicks next season if he were to rejoin the team. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith could only carry the offensive load so far, so the team needs players like Iman Shumpert, Steve Novak and Copeland to step up in 2014. At times last season, it seemed like Cope was the most effective scorer of those three.

It will truly be devastating if the Knicks were to lose Copeland to New Orleans, or another team, next season. New York took a huge step forward in nearly to making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013, but losing a key player like Copeland would be an enormous step backwards.

The Knicks need Copeland back in 2014.