The New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers are currently frontrunners to sign free-agent J.R. Smith, a source has told ESPN New York.
Due to their salary cap infrastructure, the Knicks can offer Smith more money than Los Angeles. The club is able to offer him their $2.5 million mini-midlevel exception, as well as a second year player option. The Clippers can only offer Smith the veteran’s minimum for the remainder of this season.
The Clippers (18-9), however, potentially boast a better chance at competing this postseason, as the young squad is currently in first place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. The Knicks (15-15), are on the rise after winning their last seven games in a row. Smith has ties to players on both teams as well. He previously played with Chris Paul as a member of the New Orleans Hornets, as well as Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin when he was on the Denver Nuggets, all of whom have reportedly been lobbying Smith to go to Los Angeles. He also played for several seasons Carmelo Anthony in Denver, who is currently the star of the Knicks.