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Report: Pelicans may try to snatch Copeland away from Knicks

Jun 25, 2013, 10:49 AM EDT

Chris Copeland AP

Chris Copeland proved a real value for the Knicks last season, especially when they went small — remember he dropped 13 points on the Pacers in Game 5 of that series. Mike Woodson seemed a little slow to warm to him, but Copeland brought hustle and size to the court and that won over Knicks fans.

The Knicks want to keep the 29-year-old rookie this summer.

But the Pelicans have plans to swoop in and snatch him up — and thanks to the Knicks cap situation that could happen. Marc Berman at the New York Post has the report.

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 Pelicans are thin at small forward, having started Al-Farouq Aminu this season. The former Hornets love the inside-outside game Copeland displayed as a Knicks rookie out of the Ethias League in Belgium.

Copeland is a restricted free agent but the Knicks do not have his Bird rights — that means they can match any offer he gets but only up to $3.1 million, the expected amount of their tax-payers mid-level exception. Because the Knicks are over the tax apron ($4 million over the tax line) there are restrictions on what they can offer a free agent, even a restricted one. (Welcome to the new CBA, Knicks fans.)

The Pelicans are under the cap, so they can come in and bid $4 million a year (or whatever they want) and the Knicks can’t match. There are other teams interested in Copeland as well.

Copeland has said he really wants to stay with the Knicks, but the Post reports he wants a contract in the Steve Novak range (four years, $16 million). The Knicks can’t go that high and money talks. If the Pelicans or some other team are willing to pay Copeland could fly out of Manhattan before next season.

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