According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the New Orleans Pelicans (formally known as the Hornets) could make a strong push to sign Knicks forward and restricted free agent Chris Copeland.
According to an NBA source, the newly named New Orleans Pelicans are planning to make a strong bid for the 6-foot-9 sniper as they are well under the salary cap and can make an offer that will blow Knicks owner James Dolan out of the water.The report states that the Pacers could also be interested in Copeland but the fact they are not under the cap presents a problem.
The Knicks can match any Copeland offer since he is a restricted free agent, but only up to $3.1 million — their mini mid-level exception. Since the Pelicans are under the cap, they can easily top that number.
Berman also reported that Copeland will be looking for "Steve Novak Money"which is a four year deal worth around 16 million dollars.
Copeland was the 15th man on the roster when the pre-season came to an end. He struggled with his defense and was kept off the floor for weeks at a time due to what was perceived by many as a lack of trust from Mike Woodson of Copelands all around game.
When given playing them he was a good player on the offensive side of the ball. He became the first Knicks rookie in thirty years to score 30 points in back to back games at the end of the season.
In the post season he again saw limited action until games five and six of the Indiana series where he averaged 11 points in only 19 minutes and was 6-10 in the two games from three.
Overall for the year he averaged 8.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
As we mentioned earlier, Copeland has received his qualifying offer from the Knicks and has around a month to either accept it or decline it and become a restricted free agent.
It is pretty much a lock he will decline and look to get paid in what would probably be the best contract he has ever signed.
It is no secret that Copeland when given a chance to play was pretty good, especially on the offensive side of the ball. He showed that he has good range, including shooting the three, and had solid moves off the dribble.
He is certainly a work in progress when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. If it wasn't for the horrid play of Steve Novak on defense, Copeland would have been the worst defender on the team. Some might say that he was worse then Novak.
If he left the Knicks it would be disappointing but not exactly a game changer. I'm definitely a fan of his and did not like it when Woodson sat him out of games for weeks at a time, including in the playoffs. But, he is not the difference between the Knicks winning and losing the Atlantic Division title next year.
If the Pelicans (what an odd name for a basketball team) or another team decide that Copeland is worth the money he is supposedly looking for and its out of the Knicks price range, then so be it.
It is not the end of the world if he doesn't come back but, as I said earlier in the day, I feel that he could be a nice piece for the Knicks bench if he does.
The Knicks need to prepare to lose Copeland, one of the perils of the new CBA especially when you are pushed so far against the cap. Another reason the JR Smith decision is so critical to the decision process going forward.