Adam ZagoriaWhen the Knicks play their final preseason game in the renovated Garden Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, the rehabbing trio of J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin could all get some time.
“I’m hoping all three can play a little,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Thursday. “We gotta see tomorrow and see how all three feel.”
Smith (knee), Stoudemire (knee) and Martin (ankle) all sat out Thursday’s scrimmage at practice, but Woodson is looking to see how all three react in a game. Stoudemire and Martin did not speak to the media Thursday but engaged in contact for the first time on Tuesday in Toronto, as did Smith.
Smith must be cleared by the medical staff Friday but is excited about getting in an actual game for the first time.
“I’m hoping so,” J.R. said. “I still gotta see the doctor. Hopefully, he clears me to play. I wanna play and it’ll be good for my first game to be at the new Garden so it’ll be great.”
Smith is engaged in an open competition with Iman Shumpert for the starting shooting guard spot, but Woodson said he won’t play Smith — or any of the regulars — starters’ minutes on Friday.
“We’ll get him out there tomorrow but we won’t play him a lot of minutes based on how he feels,” Woodson said.
Smith must sit five regular-season games due to his drug suspension and could debut in Game 6 vs. San Antonio Nov. 10. Although he said his lateral movement was fine, he said it could take him a couple of weeks to regain his full explosiveness after undergoing knee surgery over the summer.
“I’ve never really even been hurt before,” he said. “I know it took Shump 2-3 weeks, maybe even more, until he felt he was as explosive as he was, getting tip dunks and stuff like that. I don’t really have a timetable on when it could be but hopefully it comes soon.”
If Smith plays Friday, it will be the first time Knicks fans greet him after news of his drug suspension became public.
“We have great fans so regardless if they boo or cheer I’m going to go out there with my head held high and try to win the game with my teammates,” Smith said.
Asked if he hopes they cheer, Smith said, “I would hope so, yeah.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.