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J.R. Smith set to make season debut for Knicks on Sunday

Nov 9, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT

J.R. Smith AP

It was an interesting offseason for J.R. Smith, and perhaps a more eventful one than the team would have liked it to be.

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year re-signed in New York as a free agent on a deal that will pay him $18 million over three years, and that was about the going rate for someone of his offensive skill set and checkered off the court history.

But two other details surfaced over the summer that impacted Smith’s reputation. He admitted to waiting to have knee surgery until his guaranteed contract was signed, and more importantly, he was suspended for the first five games of the regular season for a repeated violation of the league’s drug policy.

It could be argued that the former isn’t that big of a deal, and that many of us in the same situation may have made a similar decision. But the latter infraction impacts Smith’s ability to earn those guaranteed dollars, as well as produce on the floor for his teammates.

All of that is behind Smith for the moment, and with the suspension over with, he has been cleared to make his season debut for New York against the Spurs on Sunday.

From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith will make his debut on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs after serving a five-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson says Smith, the reigning Sixth Man Award winner, will come off the bench.

“We’ve just got to make sure that mentally he’s there,” Woodson said. “And I can’t burn him physically.” …

Smith said on Saturday that he still lacks explosiveness in his knee and needs to work on his conditioning.

“I have good days and bad days,” the 28-year-old said.

The Knicks need Smith’s offense, because once you look past Carmelo Anthony and his 24.6 points per game average, the next four Knicks in scoring average between 10.8 and 13.6 points per game, with no one else on the team consistently in double figures.

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