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Knicks GM Glen Grunwald praises 'warrior' J.R. Smith

Knicks' J.R. Smith loses the ball as he

Knicks' J.R. Smith loses the ball as he runs into Indiana Pacers' Lance Stephenson during the first half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. (May 14, 2013) Credit: AP

J.R. Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season while playing on a damaged knee, Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald told reporters Tuesday in a conference call.

Smith, according to Grunwald, had been hoping that his left knee would respond to rest at the end of the season and not need surgery. This might explain why the team's second-leading scorer waited until Monday to have patellar tendon surgery and an arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee. Smith is expected to be out 12 to 16 weeks, which means he could miss a good chunk of training camp and even the start of the season.

"J.R. had this problem all of last season, even before training camp started, and to his credit, he battled through it all year and was a real warrior for us," Grunwald said Tuesday. "It turns out that the best thing for him and us is to get the surgery done now. Hopefully, he will be ready by the time the regular season rolls around. He is committed to doing all the rehab and getting himself back as soon as possible."

Grunwald said he does not regret signing Smith to a four-year deal, adding that the team knew at the time that surgery was a possibility. "We're pretty comfortable that this is something that is fixable and won't present any problems over the next four years," he said.

Grunwald also had other newsworthy comments:

He said he believes that Amar'e Stoudemire could return to "All-Star" status, and that the addition of forwards Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani would not mean that Stat is no longer in the team's plans. Said Grunwald: "I don't think either Metta or Andrea necessarily impact his role. They're all good players and good players will play."

He said he expects the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony to have a "long partnership" beyond the 2014 season, which is when Anthony can opt out of the final year of his contract. He said talk of a contract extension is "premature."

He added that Kenyon Martin is still in the team's plans and that they are considering adding another big man with defensive skills. He also praised Nate Robinson's past season in Chicago, but would not comment on whether the Knicks were interested in bringing back Robinson.

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