As Glen Grunwald and the #Knicks consider JR Smith's future, we consider the alternatives. More:
In these situations, especially with the restrictions of a salary cap system, you must sete a price for the player. In this case, we'll put Smith at the market value for a Sixth Man of the Year winner based on past winners and set the cost at $5 million per year.
His positives are scoring (18 ppg), of course, along with an understated ability to be a capable defender. His negatives are inconsistency in both effort and focus, which almost balance the scale.
So is he worth the cost and committment (likely a 4-year deal)?
That all depends on the alternatives. Can you replace him? If so, with whom?
With no cap room to spend and only a taxpayer's mid-level exception ($3 million) to offer free agents, the choices are limited. But there are choices to consider if you decide to let Smith walk:
1. Replace him in the draft: The Knicks have the 24th overall pick ($963,600 in 2013-14). A few wing prospects include Tim Hardaway Jr., Glen Rice and Allen Crabbe. None are as good as Smith now, of course, but it would certainly save a lot of money.
2. Replace him in free agency: Will JJ Redick or Kyle Korver get $5M-$6M per year deals again or will their middle class status feel the hit under the new CBA rules? What about Mo Williams at this stage of his career? you can't ignore here, of course, is that you can re-sign Smith AND still use the MLE, which means filling two spots instead of one.
3. Trade for a shooting guard. There's not much to consider, however. This route also means you have to give up a player or two, which negatively impacts your roster (unless it's an all-star caliber player, of course). Keep in mind, the Knicks CAN NOT execute a sign-and-trade if they are $4M over the luxury tax threshold. Right now they estimate to be right at it, but we won't know for sure until the NBA releases the salary cap numbers for 2013-14.
4. Replace him internally: Iman Shumpert's emergence late in the season suggests he's back on the rise. The Knicks need to get more out of Steve Novak ($3.8M next season). Sometimes scoring doesn't have to come from one guy, but multiple players. Still, it is valuable to have at least one player you can rely on to give you double-figures off the bench each night. Chris Copeland has proven he can do that. However, he is an unrestricted free agent and the Knicks can only re-sign him with a veteran's minimum or their MLE.
With these four alternatives to re-signing Smith to consider, which, if any, makes the most sense to you?