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J.R. Smith wants to start, but Mike Woodson sees him as sixth man

J.R. Smith talks to reporters after practice. (Oct.

J.R. Smith talks to reporters after practice. (Oct. 5, 2012) Credit: David Pokress

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Mike Woodson still isn't sure who will be his starting shooting guard, but he sounds certain that it won't be J.R. Smith.

Four days after Smith told reporters that he "preferred to start" for the Knicks this season, his coach made it clear that his preference is that Smith continue to play a sixth-man role.

"I kind of like where J.R. is coming off the bench," Woodson said. "He could start, you never know. But everybody can't start. I have a nice mixture of guys at this starting unit and I have to have some offense coming off the bench, as well.

"There's nothing wrong with that. He could be the best player coming off the bench in this league and perhaps win the Sixth Man Award."

For part of practice Tuesday, Woodson was running rookie Mychel Thompson with the first team. Smith had already left the court when Woodson made his comments, yet he made it clear Friday that he was hoping to move into a full-time starting position for the first time since early in his career.

"My goal was to come in here and be a starter and play with those other four guys on the floor and achieve some of my goals," Smith said. "It's frustrating after a while that people see me as a sixth man, when you believe you're a starter. But at the same time, you have to understand this is a team game and you have to put individual goals aside."

If Woodson has definitely decided that Smith will not be a starter, he hasn't announced it to the rest of the team. Carmelo Anthony, who also played with Smith in Denver, believes Smith will do whatever Woodson asks him to do.

"At the end of the day, whenever J.R.'s number is called, he has to be ready," Anthony said. "I don't think he's worried about it . . . His goal is to come in and give us production. That position is not sewed up right now."

In 538 NBA games, Smith has just 130 starts with 81 of them in his first two seasons in New Orleans. He started one game with the Knicks last season. Woodson said he is not worried that the 27-year-old Smith will balk at coming off the bench again. "J.R. is about winning. J.R. and I are on the same page as far as I'm the coach and he's the player and we'll figure it out as we go along."

Notes & quotes: Rasheed Wallace did a series of full-court drills but for the eighth straight day, the 38-year-old did not scrimmage with his teammates. Wallace would not speculate whether he could play in the Knicks' preseason game at Washington Thursday, saying it was Woodson's call. "He'll give me an idea of when he wants me out there," said Wallace, who hasn't played in two years. "If it's mid-November, then it's mid-November. Or if it's December, then it's December. It's on him, not me."

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