J.R. Smith discusses new contract, offseason and Brooklyn Nets rivalry

Sam Spiegelman

J.R. Smith has been a focal point of the New York Knicks offseason, and for obvious reasons.

J.R. Smith

The Knicks re-signed the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year to the tune of a two-year deal worth nearly $18 million, including a player option for a third year.

Smith posted career-highs in both points (18.1) and rebounds (4.5) in 2012, and told KnicksNow.com there was never a question about whether or not he wanted to remain with his hometown team.

“I mean for me it was easy, I knew where I wanted to be,” Smith told KnicksNow.com.  “I wanted to be a Knick and still want to be a Knick like I said until I retire. It wasn’t really that long of a long drawn out process. I didn’t talk to any teams.”

The plot thickened, however, when it was reported that Smith needed surgery to repair his left patella tendon shortly after signing his new deal.

Smith may miss the start of the 2013-14 season, as his recovery is expected to take upwards of four months. But the guard is hard at work, rehabbing and working out regularly in order to get back on the court as soon as possible.

“(They’re) trying not to give me too much that I can’t handle just because they want me to rehab the right way and not take any steps backwards,” Smith told KnicksNow.com, “so right now just a lot of pool workouts and bike.”

The Knicks dished out a new deal to Smith, but also brought in free agents Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, traded for Andrea Bargnani and drafted former Michigan standout Tim Hardaway Jr.

Smith considers the Knicks one of the deepest teams in the league now, adding he is looking forward to working with some of his new teammates.

“I think we’re getting better,” Smith said. “Bargnani is a 7-foot guy who can shoot and post up. I think he’s been one of the most underrated guys in this league so far because he hasn’t been able to show his talent the way he’s going to be able to in New York, so that’s going to help us.

“Beno is an unbelievable point guard. He played great against us last year in Milwaukee and he’s definitely going to help myself and Ray (Felton), help Melo because he’s a pass-first point guard and he can definitely make that open shot and Metta (World Peace) is just an all-out warrior.”

And of course, Smith could not ignore the recent statements from the Brooklyn Nets’ newest star, Paul Pierce.

Last week in a radio interview, the former Boston Celtics standout said he hates the Knicks even more since joining the Nets, and it’s time the Nets start running New York City.

On the crosstown rivalry between the Knicks and Nets, Smith, a New Jersey native, had this to say:

“They’ve got a great chance to compete for a title but I think we’re still the marquee team in New York,” he said. “I think we’re going to come out with a lot of edge and hopefully put it to a positive use on the court.”

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