As the Knicks negotiate a deal to re-sign big man Jeremy Tyler and have him for Monday’s practice, the team is expected to release point guard Chris Smith to make room on the 15-man roster, according to an NBA source.
The Knicks likely will announce the Tyler signing Monday. Smith was kept as the 15th man over the rehabbing Tyler during training camp in a controversial maneuver. Most NBA scouts consider Smith a D-League player and coach Mike Woodson admitted his brother J.R. Smith’s presence on the Knicks’ roster was a factor.
The Knicks decided they can’t afford to release point guard Tour’e Murry because Raymond Felton has shown to be injury-prone and is still out of the lineup. Plus, Murry, now in the rotation as backup PG, is considered part of the future.
The other option would have been to cut center Cole Aldrich, but the Knicks need him for front-court depth, as Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire have struggled with injuries.
Chris Smith was playing with the Knicks’ D-League affiliate Erie until two weeks ago when the Knicks promoted him because of their point-guard crisis. Smith has already pocketed his $472,000 guarantee and they can still monitor him in Erie as an NBA free agent.
“I think it’s going to be [Smith],’’ a person familiar with the Knicks thinking said. “That’s been the plan.”
The only concern was whether the NBA would frown on the maneuver because of the way Chris Smith’s contract was structured, and rumors he was kept as part of a package deal with J.R., who was a free agent last summer before re-signing with the Knicks. The brothers share the same agent, C.A.A.’s Leon Rose.
However, a league source told The Post Sunday waiving Chris Smith would not be an issue. Last month the league had internal discussions about the matter, but felt he was enough of a prospect.
The Post reported Sunday signing Tyler was imminent, but the Knicks were discussing whether to wait until Jan. 5, when 10-day contracts can be issued. But with the upcoming three-game road trip to Texas, the Knicks decided they need him now. Tyler averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds is six D-League games.