The Knicks' increasingly bizarre re-signing of J.R. Smith

Andy Lyons

Now we learn that Smith, who had surgery four days after signing his new deal, isn't getting paid as much as everyone reported. What?

And lo!, your annual reminder that the New York Knicks are the most curiously run team in the NBA. It was strange enough when J.R. Smith had knee surgery four days after signing a multi-year contract to stay with the Knicks. Now we find out that the widely-reported 4-year, $24.5 million deal he signed was actually a 3-year, $18 million contract, thanks to the New York Times' Howard Beck.

But the Knicks didn't correct the record, and actually passed up opportunities to correct the record as the press badgered the front office about Smith's surprise surgery. Beck reports he learned the contract info from a rival team executive.

Possible explanations as to why Glen Grunwald wants everyone to think he signed J.R. Smith for a bad 4-year deal instead of a shaky 3-year deal:

1. He wants Knicks fans to be pleasantly surprised when Smith's contract expires in 2016. "Merry Christmas, New York!" Grunwald shouted in Times Square.

2. Smith's agent and Grunwald cut a deal: tell Smith he got a 4-year deal, and we'll get him to sign a 3-year deal without reading it. When it comes out, deny everything.

3. YOLO.

4. It's the Kardashian ploy: create a bunch of fake contract details and see which front office member first leaks them to the press. Burn said front office member at the stake. Anyone seen Allan Houston in the last four days?

5. Just a little clerical mishap. I sure know I struggle to write the correct year on documents right after the calendar changes. We're at the start of Fiscal Year 2013-14, and Grunwald is still writing Fiscal Year 2012-13 on his checks! Oh heavens.

The revised contract details do look better for the Knicks, because length is everything. (Just ask J.R. himself.) But it's still not great when Grunwald says, via Beck's NYT piece:

"We're pretty comfortable that this is something that's fixable and won't present any problems, in certainly the foreseeable future, over the next four years or whatever," he said. "We're O.K. with that."

You know who else the Knicks thought would be healthy over the course of a long-term contract despite a history of knee injuries? Amar'e Stoudemire, who is still owed $45 million over the next two seasons. And again, Smith's contract isn't terrible based on size. It's just hard to swallow the idea that there's another walking risk tying up more of that precious salary cap room. The Knicks are consigning themselves to the Metta World Peace bin over the long term.

And while it was certainly easier to keep Smith than to chase a similar but better or cheaper free agent due to Bird rights, I can't help but look at Nate Robinson, who is still available, and imagine him as a much better fit at a much better price without that nagging knee surgery. But hey, who knows? Maybe Grunwald actually signed Robinson, not Smith, to that 3-year deal and is waiting to tell everyone until 2015, because, you know, whatever.

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