After practice yesterday, Knicks coach Mike Woodson told assembled reporters he was disappointed in J.R. Smith‘s positive drug test that led to a 5-game suspension to start the 2013-14 season. Meanwhile, Smith said his elbow to the face of Jason Terry in the opening round of the playoffs is what ultimately led to the shooting struggles that followed.
Woodson got a lot out of Smith last season after he griped in training camp about coming off the bench. But as Carmelo Anthony told us, Smith accepted the challenge and claimed the Sixth Man of the Year award as a result of his hot shooting off the bench for the best Knicks teams since before Zeke’s front office and sideline truculence.
But Woodson is not too happy about that suspension. Via Newsday‘s Al Iannazzone
“I think we all were a little disappointed. I’m not going to throw him out to the pasture. My job is to coach him and make sure something like what happened doesn’t happen again . . . But at the end of the day, he’s got to do the right thing by J.R. and his teammates and me as a coach in this organization and the fans that support him. That’s what it’s all about. And he’s got to grow up and do the right things.”
Meanwhile, with Smith still recovering from the surgery he underwent this summer to repair a meniscus in his left knee. Plus, he’s still gotta sit out those first five games. But Smith answered questions about his precipitous drop in shooting during the playoffs. In the regular season Smith shot better than 42 percent from the field and 35 percent from behind the 3-point line. In the playoffs, those numbers dipped to 33.1 and 27.3, respectively.
Like a shaman, Smith blamed his cold streak in the playoffs — particularly against Indiana — on his elbow to Jason Terry’s head, for which he was suspended for one game during the Knicks’ opening round playoff series against Boston.
Said Smith to the New York Daily News‘ Mitch Abramson, it was “pissing the NBA gods off.” But Smith said all the right things as training camp gets underway this week.
“Every day that I step in the gym I think I have something to prove, not to anybody else but to myself,” he said on Wednesday. “I feel that I can always get better. I have so much room for improvement and I just want to be the best payer I can be.”
Meanwhile, defensive stalwart and Raymond Felton lob partner Tyson Chandler has a mission this year, reports the New York Post‘s George Willis. But it might surprise fans used to his high percentage put-backs and dunks. He’s working on his jumper.
“I think it can be deadly,” Chandler said. “If you can knock down that mid-range jump shot, it exploits a lot of bigs, makes them come away from the basket where they’re not comfortable.”
The Knicks are going to be so much fun to follow this season, and so much heartache for the fans that are leery of the improved Nets.
What do you think?
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