Despite playing through knee pain last season, J.R. Smith was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for his accomplishments with the New York Knicks. The lingering ailment resulted in offseason knee surgery, and now Smith is hoping that he’ll be able to return to the court by the team’s season opener.
Smith told ESPN New York that, while it’s still too early to be definitive about anything, he’s hoping to get back by training camp so he can be active for the first game of the regular season.
“It’s still too early to tell from what I hear — from the doc and all that,” said Smith, whose current rehab consists of pool workouts and riding the exercise bike. “I hope so. I want to be there opening night. I want to start the training camp off with my team and with my teammates.”
Smith signed a three-year, $17 million deal with the Knicks this offseason. Soon after the deal was announced, the Knicks followed up to say that Smith would require significant knee surgery.
It’s expected that Smith will continue to play through pain, but there has to be hope that his condition is improved following the procedure. Considering his importance for the team, New York shouldn’t rush Smith back. Still, they’ll have to walk a fine line as they’ll want him back as soon as possible and he clearly isn’t a fan of down time.
“I hate sitting out and I hate to be the guy in the gym watching everybody else play. So I wanted to play through it no matter what,” he said. “The doctors told me to sit out and wait, sit two, three games during the season last year, and I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to play as many games as I could. I ended up playing 80 out of 82, which isn’t so bad.”Follow @hoopsinjurynews