"I think disappointed is an understatement," Smith said after practice yesterday. "My whole process of getting better this summer and everything I went through was to be in that starting role. It was great to be able to have put all that work in and understand what I can do and my body can withhold without starting. I think it just makes our bench even stronger."
Smith was hit with a double dose of bad news. His brother Chris, who is trying to make the Knicks, will undergo surgery on his left patella tendon Thursday and will miss 3-6 months. Chris Smith signed a non-guaranteed deal. It's unclear if the Knicks will cut him, but if they do, they will have to pay him in full.
J.R. said "it hurts" to see his brother have to go through this when he was "trying to prove" himself. Chris Smith will train and rehab at the Knicks' facility.
"My job as a brother and as a teammate is to keep pushing him and make sure he gets better," J.R. said.
Woodson wouldn't reveal his starting shooting guard for the Knicks' preseason opener Thursday night in Washington. It could be rookie Mychel Thompson. Asked about Jason Kidd, Woodson said he didn't know but Kidd would play some shooting guard this season, alongside Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni.
Smith seemed to be the likeliest candidate to start, especially with Iman Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer rehabbing from knee surgeries. But Woodson sees the energetic Smith as more valuable coming off the bench.
"I don't really have a choice," Smith said. "Whatever he needs me to do that's what I'm here to do. He wants me to come off the bench, I'll come off the bench. He wants me to start, I'll start."
Smith, who has started just 25 games over the past five seasons, returned to the Knicks after signing a two-year, $5.7-million deal. The second year is Smith's option.
He said he came back because he wanted to win games and doesn't care about winning the Sixth Man Award. Finishing games is still important to him, and he believes he will do that this season. "Finishing the game, you're out there when it really matters," Smith said. "When the clock runs down, when it says zero-zero, you're out there. Whether you won or lost, you can say you did your best. You can't really say that from the bench.
"Fortunately for me and the situation I'm in, I'm able to say that."
Notes & quotes: Carmelo Anthony, who hugged Michelle Obama during the Olympics, joked he didn't invite her to Thursday night's game. "I didn't want to make that call for a preseason game," Anthony said . . . Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby (calf) didn't travel to Washington. They stayed back to work out and rehab.