Guard Wants To Start, But Would Be OK Coming Off Bench

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith says he has “nothing left to prove” coming off the bench after winning last season’s Sixth Man of the Year Award.

Now he wants the starting nod from coach Mike Woodson. That said, if the Knicks reprise his role as sixth-man extraordinaire, he’d be OK with that, too.

“I’ve always wanted to start,” Smith said Tuesday, according to the New York Post. “Everybody knows that. Everybody knows how I feel about that. I won the Sixth Man last year, so I feel as though 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 a sixth man, I’ll be a sixth man. If he wants me to start, I’ll start. That’s up to him.’’

Smith underwent knee surgery in July, shortly after signing a three-year, $18 million deal with New York. He’s competing with third-year defensive whiz Iman Shumpert for the starting spot at shooting guard.

“As far as now, no telling who the starter will be,” Smith said. “When (Woodson) decides to make the choice, we both have to live with it, between myself and Shump. It’s a competition at this point. He’s winning. He’s healthy, he’s able to play. When I’m back ready, I’ll be back ready.”

Smith ran the court for the first time at practice on Tuesday and is hopeful he’ll be able to go for the Knicks’ preseason finale on Oct. 25.

As for the regular season, he’ll have to serve a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program before hitting the floor.

That is, once he’s cleared to play.

“I feel good,” Smith said. “I still feel it a little bit. … Hopefully (I’ll) be playing soon, get these five games out of the way so I can finally be out there with my teammates and get active.”

Smith averaged 18.1 points, 2.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 2012-13.

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