Knicks' injured trio may return for Friday night preseason finale

J.R. Smith of the Knicks celebrates after hitting

J.R. Smith of the Knicks celebrates after hitting a three point shot against the Sacramento Kings. (Feb. 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Fans going to Friday's Knicks preseason game at the Garden won't just get to see the completely renovated arena.

If all goes well, they'll also get to see J.R. Smith. And maybe Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin, too.

Coach Mike Woodson said Thursday that the important trio could make their preseason debuts as the Knicks host Charlotte in the final practice game before Wednesday night's regular-season opener against Milwaukee.

"We'll see how [Smith] feels [Friday], along with Amar'e and Kenyon," Woodson said after practice. "And then we'll gauge everybody based on how they feel . . . I'm hoping all three can play a little. We'll see."

Of Smith, Woodson said: "He's ready to go . . . We'll get him out there, but we won't play him a lot of minutes based on how he feels."

Smith just returned to practice this week after two offseason knee surgeries. Once he's declared medically fit to play by the team and then the league, he must sit out a five-game suspension for violating the terms of the NBA's anti-drug policy. The earliest he could play in a regular-season game is Nov. 10.

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Of rehabbing his knee, Smith said: "It's been an extremely long process. Not being able to play basketball for four-plus months is probably the toughest thing I've ever done. I'm used to playing every day, whenever I want, barely even stretching. When you just physically can't do it, it's one of those things where just mentally you're just out of it a lot of the time. It feels good to get my head in a good place."

Smith, who signed a three-year deal for about $18 million after winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award, said he doesn't expect to be 100 percent right away.

"I know my explosiveness isn't where it was or where it's going to be yet," he said. "That just comes with the course of playing the game. But as far as my quickness moving around, backpedaling, lateral movement, I feel great with all of that."

Asked if he expects to hear cheers at the Garden despite his suspension, Smith said: "I hope so."

Stoudemire had three knee procedures in a 10-month span. Martin has been dealing with an ankle injury. Both have been brought along slowly in the preseason.

Notes & quotes:Raymond Felton, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury, practiced and could play Friday. Woodson said he expects to play his starters 30 to 35 minutes, although Felton could see less than that.

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