With starting spot open, J.R. wants the job

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

The Knicks starting shooting guard position is open, and J.R. Smith says he wants to fill it.

“I’ve always wanted to start, everybody knows that,” Smith said Tuesday after practice. “Everybody knows how I feel about that. I won the Sixth Man last year so I feel there’s nothing left to prove at the Sixth Man spot, but at the same time if that’s what my team needs me to do that’s what I’ll do.

“If coach wants me to be the Sixth man, I’ll be the Sixth Man. If he wants me to start, I’ll start. It’s up to him.”

Smith ran full speed with the team doing fullcourt drills for the first time on Tuesday, but did not scrimmage. Smith is still rehabbing from offseason left knee surgery and is targeting the team’s last preseason game on Oct. 25 for his debut. He faces a five-game drug suspension at the start of the season when he is deemed healthy.

“I think that’s where we’re looking at, trying to play that last preseason game,” Smith said. “But I’m not going to put the pressure on myself to where if I don’t feel like I’m ready I’m not going to play.”

Woodson said Smith was “on pace” to scrimmage during the last week of training camp next week.

“I’ve always said I wanted to go this year with a bigger two and unfortunately J.R. hasn’t been in camp to fight for it,” Woodson said.

Harris Decker

This is excellent news considering what many fans suspected immediately hearing of this surgery. If Smith is cleared to play on Opening Day, he will make his 2013-14 debut at Madison Square Garden against the San Antonio Spurs on November 10th after serving his 5 game suspension.

Smith is in a tricky situation during the pre-season. His inability to play means that Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. will chip away at his prominent role in the 4th quarter of games. He will continue to struggle mentally between his wanting to play and his need to get healthy.

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.