Even though it’s a holiday and I’m supposed to be working on my tan right now, there was no way I could get through the day without speaking on the New York Knicks re-signing JR Smith (4 years/$24.7 million) and Pablo Prigioni (3 years/$6 million).
In a nutshell, l like these moves. Here’s why.
Starting with Prigs. The only knock against him his is age, 36. Is a three-year deal generous? Yes. But come on y’all, on average he’s only making $2 million per year, and the third year is a team option. That’s a drop in the bucket in a league where the average player earns over $5 million. Without Jason Kidd, the Knicks desperately needed a backup point guard and for the money, Prigs is a good get. Based on what he showed us last season, when he’s on the floor, good things happen. The team was +8.0 points per 100 possessions with him running point. He led the team in this category. That can’t be overlooked. Not to mention, he’s a pass first point guard who’s active on defense, despite his age. While, I would’ve preferred a one-year deal, I’m going to take it one year at a time and not get hung up over an extra $2 million per year. It’s not nearly as egregious as Amar’e Stoudemire’s $100 million deal or even Steve Novak’s four-year/$15 million deal. Let’s keep things in perspective, people.
Now onto J.R.
I won’t lie. When his Knicks status was in limbo, I was indifferent about his return. Although he was a key contributor to the Knicks success last season, he was also largely responsible for us flaming out in the second round of the playoffs. Memories like that are difficult to forget. But, as soon as it was confirmed that the Knicks locked him in, I was lowkey happy about the news.
I’m not even that upset about the terms of the deal, $6 mil per year isn’t highway robbery. And it’s decent enough for us to offer him as trade bait in the future, if a better player becomes available. In the past, the Knicks overspending for mediocre talent has been our downfall. But, J.R.’s contract is reasonable and not scary enough to deter teams from trading for him.
Now, what might scare them away is his character. Although his on-the-court behavior has improved, his “private” life away from the game became an unnecessary distraction at the worst possible time, during the playoffs. That’s my biggest concern with him.
If you don’t like his erratic shooting and suspect shot selection then there’s nothing I could ever say to make you get over that. J.R.’s the type of player that you just have to resign yourself to taking the good with the bad. And if I recall correctly, he wasn’t the only player that had an abysmal performance in the playoffs. Coach Woodson made some unforgivable coaching decisions. Melo wasn’t even a fraction of the dude who won the scoring title. Mentally and physically, Jason Kidd retired way earlier than the actual announcement was made. Steve Novak couldn’t knock down a shot to save his life. And Tyson Chandler was about as effective as a 7’1 mannequin. So, yeah J.R. was frustrating to watch in the playoffs, but he’s not the sole reason the Knicks were eliminated by the Pacers.
Once J.J. Redick agreed to a four-year/$27 million deal with the Clippers and Kevin Martin signed with the Timberwolves for four-years/$30 million, the market for shooting guards was set. J.R. could’ve tried to get cute and play hardball, but I think he knew that remaining with the Knicks was the best decision for him to make. Plus, immediately following the season, he expressed his desire to stay in New York. Even when he opted out, his preference never changed. Also, it’s public knowledge that JR and Coach Woodson have a special bond. He recognizes how much his game has improved under Woodson’s tutelage. Winning the Sixth Man of the Year award was a great confidence boost for J.R. I’d like to see him mix up his game and drive to the basket more. Couple that with his three-point game, and he’s hard to defend. If we just keep him out the clubs, he’ll be good. Trust me on this one. You’ll love him, then hate him, then love him again. Have faith, lol.
I’ll give y’all a separate and more in depth post on what I think about the overall state of the Knicks, so look out for that sometime next week. But right now, I want to eat a burger and get my tan on. Happy 4th! #Knickstape