J.R. Smith made his preseason debut at Madison Square Garden Friday night.
And now Knicks fans won’t see him again until the Nov. 10 game against the reigning Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs.
The way Smith figures it, serving a five-game marijuana suspension could actually be good news, since it will give him additional time to rest his surgically repaired knee.
“Unfortunately I have to wait these five games but it kind of helps with the knee situation so I can come back in full stride,” Smith said after going 5-for-9 for 11 points in 13 minutes — including a 35-foot 3-pointer to close out the third quarter – in the Knicks’ 85-83 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Iman Shumpert will be the starting shooting guard when the regular season opens Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. Shumpert looked good, going 5-for-10, including 4-of-7 from the arc, en route to a team-best 16 points.
Smith and Shumpert are involved in a competition for the starting two guard spot, and when Smith returns to action it will be interesting to see what coach Mike Woodson does.
Carmelo Anthony said he was impressed with what he saw from Smith.
“Even with J.R., for him to come back so fast and the rehab he’s been putting in, them guys came a long way,” he said.
For his part, Smith says he feels completely healthy and is ready to go after missing most of the preseason while recovering from July knee surgery.
“I feel great,” he said. “I wanted to play more minutes but unfortunately I couldn’t.”
Smith said he was on a 10-15-minute restriction, and wasn’t happy with it.
“It was hard to comprehend at first,” Smith said. “It’s like telling a pit bull not to bite the burglar when they come in the house, so it’s tough.”
Still, after serving his five-game suspension, Smith doesn’t want to be under any restriction when he returns in Game 6.
“No, I told him if I have to be under a restriction I don’t want to play,” he said. “I want to be able to be at my full strength.”
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.