GREENBURGH, N.Y. - J.R. Smith, the Knicks shooting guard with the bad-boy image, is trying to head into training camp with a good attitude.
"Yeah, I think it's definitely a clean slate. I think it will be more of a productive year for me," Smith said Monday at the Knicks' Media Day. "There's nothing hanging over my head, whether it's injuries, suspensions, stuff like that. I'm starting out from day one with my team and it's a great feeling."
That's a huge contrast from last season, when Smith, coming off knee surgery, was suspended for the first five games for violating the NBA's anti-drug program. Smith got off to a slow start, averaging 12 points during the first three months. He also showed a lack of maturity, twice untying an opponent's shoelaces, leading to $50,000 in fines.
By the end of the season, however, Smith was playing well. In April, he averaged 23.4 points while shooting 46.3 percent from three-point range. For the season, he averaged 14.5 points.
"I didn't feel like I did two years ago until the last 30 games of the year," Smith said, referring to his knee. "It's a long process, but I stuck with it with the trainers and believed in what they told me and I've gotten back to what I was. And hopefully, it can be a much better, productive year."
Smith, like everyone but Carmelo Anthony, enters camp without a guaranteed starting spot. Smith and Iman Shumpert could be competing for the shooting guard position, and Tim Hardaway Jr. will get major minutes after a standout rookie season.
Smith, 29, talked recently about trying to be a leader on the team. Anthony would like to see that happen.
"That's a good mindset to have, that's a good step to take for J.R. to come out and say that he wants to be more of a leader," Anthony said. "I love to hear that he's ready to take on that challenge.''
In 10 seasons, Smith has gotten past the second round of the playoffs only once, with Denver in 2009. He knows he doesn't have that many chances left, which may be why he said he has decided to bring a more serious attitude to the game.
"Just trying to get closer to my goal, which is winning an NBA championship, just doing whatever it takes,'' Smith said. " . . . In my eyes, it's a failure if I spend this much time in the league and not win. I've got some time to make up."