The “New York Post” reported Friday that according to their sources the New York Knicks have come to terms with Free Agent shooting guard J.R. Smith and he will sign a contract with the club for the balance of the campaign. Smith had signed a contract with Chinese team Zhejiang Chuzhou during the NBA Lockout and became eligible to return to the Association on Wednesday. According to the report the former Denver Nuggets guard will receive a pro-rated portion of the Knicks $2.5 million salary cap exception. He is expected to be at Madison Square Garden on Friday night as New York hosts the New Orleans Hornets but is not expected to make his debut with the team until Sunday when his team takes on the Dallas Mavericks.
The team will have to release a player in order to add Smith to the roster; ironically it looks like the veteran’s former teammate with Denver Renaldo Balkman is the most logical candidate to get his walking papers. Balkman came to New York in the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the Knicks last February.
With the emergence of starting point guard Jeremy Lin over the last couple of weeks as well as the signing of Smith; the Knicks back-court which had been the team’s weak spot just a short while ago has now turned into a position of strength for the team. Landry Fields has done a good job as the starting shooting guard for the squad and rookie Iman Shumpert has been an asset to the team as well. Even if injured guard Baron Davis can not return from back problems that have kept him on the sidelines all season; the Knicks appear to be in good shape in their back-court.
Smith has been in the Association for seven seasons, spending the last five playing for Denver. He has averaged 12.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game during his career in the NBA.