Mike Woodson says J.R. Smith needs to grow up
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Mike Woodson feels let down by J.R. Smith and said the Knicks' enigmatic sixth man needs to grow up.
Smith was suspended five games by the NBA last month for violating the anti-drug policy. It's not the ideal way for Smith to return this season, especially after a rough playoffs and a summer when the Knicks signed him to a three-year, $18-million deal.
"I think we all were a little disappointed," Woodson said after practice yesterday. "I'm not going to throw him out to the pasture. My job is to coach him and make sure something like what happened doesn't happen again . . . But at the end of the day, he's got to do the right thing by J.R. and his teammates and me as a coach in this organization and the fans that support him. That's what it's all about. And he's got to grow up and do the right things."
Smith has received more leeway from Woodson than any of his former coaches, and in return Woodson expects more. Last season, Smith averaged a career-best 18.1 points and was the Sixth Man of the Year.
It's unclear when Smith's suspension will start because he's recovering from surgery on his left knee performed in July and hasn't begun running yet. He rode the bike, shot around a little and did a boxing workout Wednesday. The timetable was he would return 12 to 16 weeks after the July 15 procedure.
Smith said he feels bad for letting down Woodson, his teammates and Garden executive chairman James Dolan, and vowed to be a better player and teammate this season.
"Different attitude, different approach," Smith said. "I'm going to be more focused in on the game, focused in on myself, try to get the crowd more hyped up, be more locked in on what Woody's telling us."
Things started to turn for Smith in the wrong direction in the Knicks' first-round series against Boston. He threw an elbow at Jason Terry's head in Game 3 and was suspended for Game 4.
Smith averaged 16.3 points and shot 43.5 percent in the first three games of the series -- all Knicks wins. After returning, Smith averaged 13.5 points and shot 29.1 percent in the Knicks' final eight playoff games. Smith said he got what he deserved.
"I call it [ticking] the NBA gods off," Smith said. "You're making, making, making a lot of shots -- and you mess with the basketball game and the game gets you back. And it definitely got me back."
Smith can't wait to get back on the floor and start making up for the playoffs and what happened during the summer. The Knicks hope Smith has learned a lesson.
"He's in a good place right now," Tyson Chandler said. "I feel like he's going to learn from this."
"You talk about missing the first five games, I'm not happy about it," Woodson said. "But hey, we know what we're facing and we've got to get through it and we've got to make sure that it's something that he understands can't happen again."
Notes & quotes: Woodson said veteran Jason Collins' "name has come up" when the Knicks were looking to add a big man. They went younger with Cole Aldrich. Collins, who revealed in a magazine article that he is gay, still is unsigned . . . Hoping to keep his veterans healthy for the long haul, Woodson pulled Chandler and Kenyon Martin out of the latter part of practice . . . The Knicks signed 6-7 swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts and waived forward Justin Brownlee.