J.R. Smith not sure when he'll be back for Knicks

Knicks' J.R. Smith takes a moment to think Knicks' J.R. Smith takes a moment to think late in the fourth quarter while playing the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Madison Square Garden. (May 5, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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J.R. Smith was back with his original black hair color Saturday but said he doesn't know when he'll be back on a basketball court.

Smith, who is no longer sporting blond hair after he said his mother and Mike Woodson expressed disapproval, said he hopes he'll be ready for the Knicks' season opener. He said his rehab following knee surgery this summer is going good, but he's unsure when he'll be able to play.

"Me, personally, I want to play in the season opener and I want to get out there as soon as I can," said Smith at a charity event for kids in conjunction with the PGA Foundation at the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers. "But I know Dr. [Answorth] Allen isn't going to let me rush it. If he says I have a week, he already said he's going to give me two weeks. It's pretty much up to them at this point."

The NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year was expected to miss 12 to 16 weeks after having surgery on his left knee in July to repair the patella tendon and a torn meniscus.

Smith, 27, re-signed with the Knicks in July for three years and about $18 million. Just days later, it was revealed that he would require knee surgery.

The Knicks will have training camp from Oct. 1-8, which is about 12 weeks after his surgery. And they'll play their first preseason game Oct. 9 in Providence, R.I., against the Celtics. The 2013-14 regular season begins Nov. 1, which is about 16 weeks after his surgery. Smith mentioned the date of the Knicks' first day of camp, but did not say that it was a target for him.

"It's going good and they've [team doctors] been giving me weekly reports," he said. "So far, so good. I feel like I'm getting stronger. It's just a matter of a time frame and trying to get ready for Oct. 1."

Does he think he will, in fact, be ready to practice with the Knicks the first week of October?

"I don't know," said Smith, who added he'll meet again with team doctors sometime next week. "Honestly, they're not really letting me think that far ahead."

Smith said his rehab has increased to working out in a pool and doing Pilates, but he also noted he has not performed any leg presses an has not done any work with weights.

The nine-year pro added that he's not exactly in the know when it comes to his own timetable.

"I have asked them but they haven't really told me," Smith said. "They change it up week by week. One week, I was sitting there and they were bending my leg on a table and before I knew it I was running in a pool. I try not to ask them as much as possible."

Smith provided instant offense off the bench during his best season as a pro, averaging 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, both of which were career highs, and 2.7 assists during the regular season. While fielding questions from kids in the crowd during Saturday's event, Smith declared that the Knicks would win it all this season.

"I feel confident," he later said. "People wrote us off early last year, too. We added some great pieces. I think we got everything we need here and it's just a matter of us going out there and doing it."

The possibility remains that the Knicks may have to start doing it without Smith, though.

"I honestly don't know what to expect because I never really been in this situation before," said Smith. "They [team doctors] say I'm better than what they thought and I'm doing faster, so if anything I would think that I was, but I'm not 100 percent sure."

During the event, Smith was asked by a youngster why he joined the Knicks over the Nets when he came back from China in February 2012.

"The Nets weren't good," Smith said. "Now they're still not good.

"I think we're still the marquee team in New York."

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