File this one under "I" somewhere between inane and insane. According to a report from Marc Berman of the New York Post, the New York Knicks recently talked with the Indiana Pacers about one-time Knick and current Pacer, Chris Copeland:
One of president Phil Jackson's big decisions this season is whether to trade J.R. Smith, and the club had recent conversations with the Pacers regarding ex-Knick Chris Copeland, according to a league source.
Copeland, currently averaging 16.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as the Pacers' new-found super-sub, comes packaged with an expiring $3.1 million contract, per Sham Sports. Meanwhile, the Knicks' former Sixth Man of the Year is owed $5.9 million this season and has a $6.4 million player option for 2015-16. Given the salary differential, other pieces would have to be thrown into the mix to make this rumor feasible.
Even with the loss of depth at the small forward position, trading an expiring contract for an antic-prone player with an upcoming early termination option is less than desirable. The only positive that can be taken away from (depending upon what spin one chooses to believe) Lance's decision to take a chance on himself with the Hornets, is that his alter-ego, otherwise known as Bad Lance, went with him to Charlotte. Adding Smith, while clearly skilled, would only renew the possibility of another Pacer being a nightly inspiration for many a meme:
Through three regular season games, Smith is averaging 8 points and 4 assists on 40% shooting while knocking down only 28.6% of his shots from behind the arc. During the Pacers' 2012-13 meeting with the Knicks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, J.R. shot a cringe-worthy 28.8% from the field while rumors swirled about his fondness for New York's nightlife.
With Chris Copeland posting career high numbers, the possibility looms that he could end up seeking a more lucrative contract elsewhere or that the Pacers could package his expiring contract at the deadline, but swapping the fan favorite for Smith as a means to temporarily fill a void on the wing feels like putting the cart before the horse.
Still nothing more than a rumor, there is no way to decidedly decipher which team initiated the alleged "conversations," but the below quote from Berman should shed some light on the mystery:
"The Knicks are trying to open up as much cap space as possible and would benefit if Smith opts out or if they trade him for an expiring contract."
Larry Bird is always going to look for ways to improve the roster, but, right now, Copeland's expiring contract is arguably more valuable to both the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks.