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Report: J.R. Smith deciding between Knicks, Clippers

Feb 16, 2012, 10:06 AM EDT

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Wednesday in China, J.R. Smith hopped on a plane and said “zai zian” to the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association where he played during the lockout. His team is out of the playoffs and he is on his way home.

The only question is, where is that plane going to land? New York or Los Angeles?

While a number of teams — Indiana, Orlando, Minnesota — have courted Smith, it’s down to the Knicks and Clippers reports Ramona Shelburne with

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.

The one thing Smith wanted was meaningful minutes, something he would get with either team. The Knicks have needed a two-guard all season, the Clippers stepped up their pursuit of Smith (with Chris Paul as lead recruiter) after Chauncey Billups went down for the season with an Achilles injury.

Expect Smith’s decision to come soon — his contract is pro-rated from when he signs, so the sooner it happens the more money he makes.

  1. clifford84 - Feb 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    The Knicks don’t need a starting 2. That’s Landry Fields, who’s a better rebounder, passer, and defender than JR Smith–all qualities vital to this lineup.

    They sure could use JR’s scoring off the bench, though. But I’m a little worried about him negatively affecting the great chemistry they have going right now.

  2. henryd3rd - Feb 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Tough decision for JR! Play in La La Land with Kobe or in The Big Apple with Lin? Decisions decisions decisions! By the way how did playing in China work out for you? One thing for sure you should be in shape.

  3. garryfish - Feb 16, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Henry, you mean either Linn or Paul.

  4. bklynfatpants - Feb 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    JR is instant O, but if people are worried about the chemistry of the Knicks when Melo returns, what about this addition? just nuts.

  5. leearmon - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Im actually not too worried about J.R. as Isola is now reporting the Knicks are working on a deal with Smith. New York needs three point shooters to spread the floor for penetration. At this point the only players who can even be considered decent three point shooters are Novak (how is he not in the three point contest) and Bill Walker, however the addition of Smith makes them more dangerous. In 4 of the last 5 years Smith has shot 390 and above from downtown. Last season he had .514 eFG&!!!! At the beginning of the season the knock on New York was lack of depth, now assuming NYK actually do finalize a deal with J.R. they can legitimately go 9-11 deep (Lin, Landry, Melo, Amar’e Chandler, Shump, Davis, Novak, Smith, Jorts, Jeffries) Chemistry is something that has to be a concern, but from reports all of Smith’s teammates loved him. And he provides another weapon for Lin to find, and makes a possible return of SSOL back to Dantoni’s arsenal.

  6. passerby23 - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Playing with great point guards means he’s going to get a lot of open looks. The Clippers just seem like a better fit to me. There will be enough issues with touches when Melo is back, and he’s playing behind Landry Fields.

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