(GREENBURGH, N.Y.) — Despite winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award last season, Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith doesn’t mind coming off the bench, but would rather start.
“I’ve always wanted to start. Everybody knows that,” Smith said. “I won the Sixth Man [Award] last year, so I felt 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,” he continued. “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 averaged 18.1 points a game, 2.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds last season and will compete for the starting job with third-year guard Iman Shumpert this preseason.
Smith is currently off the court recovering from offseason knee surgery and is planning on playing the final preseason game on Oct. 25.
“I’m trying to play the last preseason game but I’m not going to put the pressure on myself. If I don’t feel I’m ready, I’m not going to play,” Smith said.
As for the competition with Shumpert, Smith said it comes down to what head coach Mike Woodson decides.
“When [Woodson] decides to make the choice we both have to live with it, between myself and Shump,” Smith said. “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 ready.”
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