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Knicks’ J.R. Smith Declines Contract Option, N.Y. Times Reports

J.R. Smith will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after rejecting a $2.93 million option from the Knicks, the New York Times reported.

The Knicks still can pay Smith a starting salary of $5.5 million or a maximum of $24.5 million over four years under the team’s early-bird rights, the Times said.

Smith was selected as the National Basketball Association’s sixth man of the year after averaging a career-best 18.1 points per game this season. During the playoffs, he shot 33 percent and was suspended for one game for elbowing Boston’s Jason Terry in the chin.

The Knicks made qualifying offers to Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni, which makes them restricted free agents. While the Knicks can still match outside offers to the two players, they are over the cap and luxury-tax threshold and have a mid-level exception of $3.18 million to spend, the Times said.

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