J.R. Smith said he didn't intentionally hit Glen Rice Jr. in the groin. But he wasn't surprised the NBA suspended him, saying his reputation as a bad boy was the reason.
"I don't think it's something that anybody saw that I was deliberate about it," Smith said Friday. "They did. Just got to take it for what it is."
Smith served his one-game suspension in the Knicks' 98-95 loss to the Pistons on Wednesday. He will return for Friday night's game against the Nets.
It was the third time the NBA suspended him since signing with the Knicks in 2011. He received a one-game ban for elbowing Jason Terry in the 2013 playoffs, and five games for violating the league's anti-drug policy last season.
"At this stage of my career with all the suspensions and stuff like that, once I knew I had to make the phone call something was going to come down from it," Smith said.
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn told The Associated Press that Smith's reputation had nothing to do with his suspension.
Smith contends he did nothing wrong, and didn't know what had happened to Rice Jr., who was on the floor for a while. A foul was called on Rice Jr. on the play.
"I was trying to clear space to get as close to the basket as I could to get the shot off," Smith said. "It definitely wasn't anything intentional.
"I seen him on the floor. I was trying to figure out what happened. Was he bleeding or something or what? The ref didn't call it. The ref called a foul on him. I didn't really see what happened."
The Knicks will be without Pablo Prigioni (sprained right ankle) Friday night and possibly Saturday in Atlanta, too.