Free agent guard J.R. Smith, who elected to play in China during the NBA lockout, is returning to the NBA with the New York Knicks, according to a report and as posted on his Twitter account. To make room for Smith, the Knicks will release forward Renaldo Balkman, a former first-round draft pick.
The move to acquire Smith has long been speculated for the Knicks, who have sought an additional outside shooter and capable scorer off the bench. Smith should provide just that, with a career scoring average of 12.5 points per game. On April 13, 2009, Smith made 11 3-pointers as part of his career-high 45-point night against the Sacramento Kings, just one shy of tying the NBA record.
Smith was unable to return to the NBA until the conclusion of his Chinese team's season, but has drawn numerous suitors upon his return. Other teams interested in the former Nugget and Hornet include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls, and Indiana Pacers.
It is believed that Smith will be paid the prorated amount of a $2.5 million salary cap exception the Knicks hold.
Smith should be in uniform on Sunday when the Knicks host the Dallas Mavericks.