New York, NY

The New York Knicks have decided to hold on to Sixth Man of the Year awardee J.R. Smith by signing him to a four-year, $24.7 million contract.

Smith drew interest from the Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks, but wanted to play close to his family in New York. He also has a strong relationship with Knicks coach Mike Woodson.

The 27-year-old Smith came off the bench in all 80 of his games this past season, averaging 18.1 points, the highest among reserve players. He also snatched 5.3 rebounds per game last season.

Smith played an integral role in the Knicks' regular-season success but struggled mightily in the playoffs, making just 33 percent of his field goal attempts. His reputation for inconsistent play and his subpar postseason may have caused teams with cap space to shy away from offering him a lucrative, long-term pact.

The contract is the maximum amount the Knicks can give Smith via the early Bird rights, which allows a team to offer the average player salary with standard annual raises of 7.5 percent. The league's average salary is projected at approximately $5.5 million.

Smith's deal contains a player option in the fourth and final year.

The Knicks also came to terms with restricted free agent Pablo Prigioni, agreeing on a three-year deal. The third year is a team option. Prigioni's contract will start around $1.5 million, the agent said, but it can increase to $2 million with incentives.

Prigioni, 36, averaged 3.5 points and 3.0 assists for the Knicks this past season.

The Knicks have also extended a qualifying offer to Chris Copeland, a restricted free agent, and will have the opportunity to match any offer he gets on the open market.

NBA Free agent signings do not become official until the league-wide moratorium is lifted July 10.


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