J.R. Smith waltzed towards the Eagle Ridge Golf course in New Jersey with a beaming smile. Despite his inability to play 18 at the J.R. Smith Youth Foundation golf event, the 27-year old is on the road to recovery, surrounded by his daughter and family, and back with the Knicks after re-signing with the team this summer.
“I mean for me it was easy, I knew where I wanted to be,” Smith stated. “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 reigning Sixth Man of the Year enjoyed a breakout season in New York. During the regular season, Smith posted 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Unfortunately, he suffered through a chronic knee injury that gradually worsened and eventually led to patella tendon surgery and an arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee last month.
“For me, hopefully as soon as possible but I got to you know rest and listen to the doctors and we had great success with the surgeries over the past couple years with the Knicks and listening to the doctors with all my health issues so I’m going to follow their game plan and let them tell me where I’m at,” Smith updated reporters at his golf event on Thursday afternoon.
At the time of the procedure, the Knicks announced expected recovery time at approximately 12-16 weeks.
Smith described his current rehab process, “Well right now I’m doing my pool workouts, started riding the bike, their 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 so right now just a lot of pool workouts and bike.”
While Smith has tackled rehab in search of an early return, New York has been busy in the free agency market assembling one of the deepest teams in the league. The Knicks acquired Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani, Beno Udrih, and drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. as the cast of new characters in Gotham.
“Yeah, I think we’re getting better,” Smith smiled. “To add that big, 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 really 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 [Udrih] 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 [Anthony] because he’s a pass-first point guard and he can definitely make that open shot and Metta [Word Peace] is just an all out warrior. He can guard 1-5, he makes the big shots, he wants the big shot moments so we definitely need somebody like that on the team.”
With the new Knicks cast and the major moves made in Brooklyn, Smith answered the question that will be hotly debated all season. Who owns New York?
“I think they’ve got a great chance to compete for a title but I think we’re still the marquee team in New York. I think we’re going to, I mean a lot of people still count us out just like they did last year and we’ve got a lot to prove, I think we’re going to come out with a lot of edge and hopefully put it to a positive use on the court,” Smith declared.
For more information regarding Smith's foundation, visit his site here.