We knew it would only be a matter of time before the Knicks used their mini mid-level exception on a player that can contribute to the team this year, and they did just that by signing big man Jason Smith to a one-year $3.3 million deal.
Given the Knicks uncertain situation at the power forward and center positions, it’s not surprising to see them use their exception on Smith. He is a 7-footer with a decent post game, but is better known for his rebounding and surprisingly effective jump-shot up to 18-feet away from the basket. Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Samuel Dalembert and Cole Aldrich are all going to be on the roster (barring and trades of course), and there are still question marks surrounding Jeremy Tyler and fan favorite Kenyon Martin. Smith will provide a solid insurance policy behind whichever bigs do end up on the team, especially given the injury woes of Stoudemire and Bargnani. He can provide solid minutes off the bench if one, or more than likely, both go down.
In 31 games (27 starts) with the New Orleans Pelicans last season, Smith averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game, which were all career highs. The most overlooked part of this signing will be that Smith is actually a very good passer out of the low-post, something that’s necessary in the triangle offense. There is a theme with Phil Jackson and his method to signing/drafting players that are mature and scheme-fit guys, and while Smith is certainly not a household name, Knicks fans will appreciate his hard work on the court.
The only issue with this signing is that Smith is also injury prone. His 2013-14 season was cut short in January by a right knee surgery, and throughout his NBA career he has missed an average of 24.6 games per season. Given the fact that the Knicks used a mini mid-level exception and that he probably won’t be asked to play major minutes, this is a great move for the Knicks. Smith will bring some toughness on the interior and a rebounding presence in the paint.
Are you a fan of the Jason Smith signing? Should the Knicks have done something else with their mini mid-level exception? Let us know in the comments section below!
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