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Report: Bucks, Suns, Pistons may try to poach J.R. Smith from Knicks

Jul 1, 2013, 1:27 PM EDT

John Starks, J.R. Smith AP

The Knicks remain the odds-on favorite to retain their second scoring option and Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith.

But there is a limit to how much they can offer him. The Knicks have Smith’s Early Bird rights (and are over the tax line), so they can only offer a deal for 175 percent of what he made last year (which would be $4.9 million) or they can offer just over the league average salary, which would be $5.4 million. The Knicks are expected to make a multi-year $5.4 million offer soon.

But another team with cap space could come in with a better offer and Smith would be forced to choose. A few teams are considering it, reports the New York Post.

The Knicks believe odds are they will retain J.R. Smith, but it hardly is a guarantee considering the bevy of under-the-cap clubs and a weak free-agent class. The Bucks, Pistons and Suns are contemplating throwing money Smith’s way.

Would Smith take a $6 million to move? How much higher does it have to be for him to walk from the Knicks?

Any offer for Smith likely comes a little ways into free agency, once those teams see how their first options work out.

There was some buzz that the Knicks were considering Monta Ellis, possibly as a replacement if they lose Smith. But the Knicks could only offer him $3.2 million a year as a free agent, which would be great value if they could get him but the more likely outcome is Ellis takes the larger paycheck somewhere else.

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