Adam ZagoriaJ.R. Smith will return to contact drills on Tuesday and is targeting a return for the Knicks’ first home exhibition on Friday against Charlotte.
“Yeah, definitely, it will benefit myself and the team just to see me out there,” Smith said Sunday after the team scrimmaged at Columbia University before leaving for Monday’s exhibition game in Toronto. “I’m just trying to help the guys as much as I can and hopefully contact goes as good as expected.”
Said head coach Mike Woodson: “It would be nice if he could play [against Charlotte]. All signs are pretty good right now. We just gotta make sure that he doesn’t have any setbacks between now and Friday.”
The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Smith had patellar tendon surgery and an arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee in July.
He is involved in an open competition with Iman Shumpert for the starting shooting guard spot. Whenever Smith is healthy enough to play in the regular season, he must sit five games due to a drug suspension.
Smith participated in fullcourt 3-on-3 drills at Columbia prior to the scrimmage. He admitted it’s been “frustrating” not being able to play games with his teammates, and said he’s excited to get back on Tuesday.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “Finally get back out there with my guys, just getting knocked around a little bit. Sometimes you need that.”
Smith admitted he could be a little rusty with his 3-point shot once he returns but said he wasn’t overly concerned about it.
“You have to have confidence in your shot,” he said. “If you don’t have confidence, 90 percent of the time you’re not going to make it. I have the ultimate confidence in my shot, my shooting ability and my coaches who help me with that, so that’s not a worry at all.”
Andrea Bargnani did not scrimmage Sunday but will make the trip to Toronto. “He just stiffened up [his back] after all the conditioning we were doing,” Woodson said, “so we just pulled him and took him down to stretch him but he’s fine.”…Raymond Felton (hamstring) will sit out Monday’s exhibition, while Iman Shumpert (elbow) is questionable, Woodson said….Without those three, the Knicks started Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway Jr., Carmelo Anthony, Ike Diogu and Tyson Chandler in the scrimmage…With the injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) and Kenyon Martin (ankle), Woodson could opt to keep two of the new bigs when the roster is cut to 15 at the end of the month. Diogu has played the best of the group, and the Knicks could also opt to keep Cole Aldrich…C.J. Leslie could get a little run Monday after getting a DNP in Thursday’s win over the Wizards. “I’ll see if I can fit him in and see what he has to offer,” Woodson said.