J.R. Smith will become a free agent this offseason but said after Saturday night’s 106-99 season-ending loss to the Indiana Pacers that he hopes to return to the New York Knicks.
“I want to retire a Knick,” Smith said when asked about his future following the loss on Saturday, via ESPNNewYork.com. “I don’t want to go anywhere else. I love it. I love my teammates. I love my coaches. I was sitting in the locker room looking at my jersey after the game just knowing I don’t want to be anywhere else except for in the orange and blue. So we’ll see.”
Smith, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award, has a $2.9 million player option for next year and will likely opt out and test free agency.
The Knicks are expected to make it a priority to sign the 27-year-old. They have Smith’s Early Bird Rights and can offer him a four-year contract starting at $5 million with standard raises.
But a team with significant cap space could come in and offer Smith more than $5 million.
Smith was asked if he would be willing to take less money to remain in New York.
“I haven’t even thought about all that thus far. Still got to talk to [agent] Leon [Rose] and see where we’re at,” he said.
Smith averaged 18.1 points per game in the regular season but struggled in the playoffs, averaging 14 points on 30 percent shooting.
“I left shots out there that I should have made, and I wasn’t there for my teammates,” Smith said after missing 11 of 15 shots in the Knicks’ Game 6 loss. “When you have the quote-unquote season that I had, your teammates are supposed to be able to rely on you. They tried to rely on me and I didn’t step up.
“Regardless of what that says about me or my game, it won’t happen again.”