Sixth Man of the Year and New York Knicks super-sub J.R. Smith is careening wildly toward free agency, and the only thing that may keep him loyal to the Orange and Blue is not the chance to play with Carmelo Anthony, but rather, the legendary nightlife in NYC.
The Knicks are restricted in the contract they can offer him because of their salary-cap situation, so any team with cap space that wants to pursue him would likely be able to outbid the Knicks.
We will look at each of these six potential landing spots and evaluate them qualitatively, and based on the off metric of J.R. Smith. He likes to party (just ask Rihanna or Tahiry), so Smith may find it tough to leave the Big Apple unless it's for a more substantial incentive than a few hundred thousand bucks a year. After all, those Milwaukee nights in February can get lonely.
The Knicks own Smith's early Bird rights, so they could offer him 175 percent of last year's salary (which would be just under $5 million) under that provision, or slightly more than the league average (near $5.5 million) under a different provision.
Smith is coming off the finest season of his career, as he functioned as a starter under Knicks coach Mike Woodson, except he spent the first three or four minutes of the game on the bench.
Smith completely changed styles during the season, at one point eschewing the familiar fadeaway jumpers in favor of an aggressive, rim-assaulting mentality that ratcheted up his shooting percentage and resulted in copious foul shots.
Not coincidentally, this change in Smith's game corresponded with the Knicks' 13-game winning streak, and included six straight games in which Smith took at least 10 shots and shot 50 percent or better from the field.
When he's good, he's very, very good. But when he's bad, well, the Knicks lose in the playoffs. Still, the mercurial guard has already kicked off a sweepstakes for his services, and he'll likely be doling out thrills and headaches on one of these six teams next season. Here they are, in order of overall desirability.