AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith has informed the New York Knicks that he will decline the option in his contract for next season and become a free agent.
A team spokesman also says Tuesday the Knicks extended a qualifying offer to forward Chris Copeland, making him a restricted free agent and allowing them to match any offer he receives.
Smith's decision was not a surprise given that he can make much more than the $2.9 million he was scheduled to earn next season.
The New Jersey product is happy in New York and is a longtime teammate of Carmelo Anthony so he would likely want to stay with the right offer.
Smith averaged 18.1 points in 80 regular-season games but his horrendous 29 percent shooting and poor decisions over the final eight postseason games could scare off potential suitors.
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