The New York Knicks have become the latest NBA team to fall under the scrutiny of trade rumors, with J.R. Smith being the player to watch.
That's because the Knicks want to have as much cap space as possible when they try to lure in free agents in 2015. Knicks coach Phil Jackson has told Marc Berman of the New York Post that although he is unclear on Smith's future, he noted that Smith does share some similarities with Dennis Rodman in regards to off-the-court antics.
"I don't know if that's possible or not,"' Jackson said. "He might be one of those guys that's a little bit like Dennis Rodman, that has an outlier kind of side to him. But I'm going to get to know him as we go along, and we'll find a way to either make him a very useful player in our organization, or whatever."
However, Ian O'Connor said in an ESPN commentary that the Knicks should trade Smith based on his shaky decisions on the court. He contended that the Knicks team would probably not take Jackson's "culture change" seriously if Smith remained on the roster.
"J.R. has had a lot of issues but he can be a big-time scorer when he's doing the right things," a high-ranking league executive said to O'Connor. "There's always a team out there willing to take a chance on somebody if they feel he can put them over the top, and there's no doubt J.R. can play. People are going to be concerned about chemistry issues in the locker room, so it would have to be a strong leadership and coaching staff that take him in."
However, Andrew Melnick of Sports Illustrated reported that the Knicks have indicated to the Indiana Pacers that they want to trade their guard for forward Chris Copeland, who once played for the New York team. According to Melnick, the Knicks could benefit either from this deal or if Smith opts out of the $6.4 million he could make in the 2015-16 NBA season.
The trade could also benefit the Pacers, given that the team has sustained several player losses in the form of Paul George's leg injury (which ended his playing season), Lance Stephenson's departure as a free agent, and Danny Granger exiting the team, according to Berman. However, Smith has his own issues too.
"The Pacers could use an experienced wing scorer, though Smith comes with baggage, recent back spasms and a sore hip," Berman wrote.
Dan Feldman of NBC Sports argued that a Copeland-Smith trade between the Knicks and Pacers "wouldn't work under the CBA." He added, though, that the trade might be allowed if C.J. Watson's expiring contract was added into the mix.
The New York Post reports that Jackson will not make any deals until Dec. 15, which is when this year's free-agent signees and draft picks can be traded.