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NBA reportedly decides Knicks' Chris Smith deal was above board

According to a report, the league investigated the New York Knicks' signing of Chris Smith and decided he was a project, not a package deal with his brother.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has looked into the New York Knicks' decision to keep Chris Smith, brother of J.R. Smith, on their roster. The league came to the conclusion that the Knicks have not violated the NBA salary cap in this case, via the New York Post's Marc Berman:

J.R. Smith was a free agent over the summer and talked about taking less money to stay with the Knicks, who could offer only the early-Bird exception that, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, started at $5.5 million. When the undrafted Chris Smith changed agents to J.R.'s rep, Leon Rose, last spring, some in the league saw it as a "package deal.''

But, according to a league official, the league decided Chris Smith was enough of a bona fide NBA prospect to justify the club keeping him.

"Chris has enough talent,'' the official told The Post. "He could become an NBA player one day. Some teams do keep projects instead of players who can help right away, and Chris is one of those projects."

Smith was sent down to the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA D-League on Monday, where he is expected to spend a significant chunk of the season while taking up a New York roster spot with his guaranteed contract. Within the Knicks coaching staff, there is a belief that Smith doesn't even have D-League talent, according to a recent report by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

Smith has not appeared in any regular season games this season, but did play a total of 20 minutes in the preseason, scoring three points on 1-7 shooting over the course of three games. He is making a league minimum $491,000, but is actually costing the team over $2 million because of New York's luxury tax status. The Knicks still need another big man in the wake of Tyson Chandler's broken leg, but do not have an available roster spot.

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