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Mike Woodson says J.R. Smith needs to be more of a pro

Mike Woodson of the Knicks talks with J.R.

Mike Woodson of the Knicks talks with J.R. Smith during a game against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

INDIANAPOLIS - Mike Woodson said J.R. Smith remains a big part of the Knicks, but he's got to grow up and be more of a professional.

If he doesn't, Smith could continue to be treated like persona non grata and a handsomely paid spectator.

Last season's Sixth Man of the Year was benched in the Knicks' 108-98 loss in Charlotte on Tuesday, the second time in four games Smith was a healthy scratch. It remains to be seen whether Smith will again watch from the end of the bench Thursday night when the Knicks play the Pacers.

"I'm not kicking J.R. to the curb," Woodson said on ESPN New York radio Wednesday. "J.R.'s a big part of what we've done here and he will remain a big part. But he's got to make sure he's on the same page with the head coach in terms of what I'm expecting from him and what I want him to do in terms of his play and what he's doing on and off the court to help us win basketball games.

"I think every player has a responsibility and got to be held accountable for what they do."

Woodson hasn't revealed why Smith has been benched either time. ESPN New York reported Smith was late for a team meeting Tuesday. Reports also said Smith expressed frustration to Woodson over playing just 45 seconds in the five-minute overtime period of Monday's win over the Suns.

"I got to police players," Woodson said. "I got to make sure players are doing what's asked of them. J.R. is no different. He's part of the Knicks. He wears the uniform. When he's not doing what he's supposed to do I got to let him know about it.

"We want the best for J.R. He's got to be more of a pro in terms of his approach to the game, and in doing that that will help us from a basketball standpoint."

Smith was on his best behavior much of last season when he had a career year and helped the Knicks win 54 games. But since the Knicks gave him a three-year, $17.9-million deal in July, he's been backsliding.

Smith, who is averaging 11.4 points and shooting 35.7 percent, was suspended five games at the start of the season for failing a drug test and has been fined a total of $75,000 by the league. Smith also posted an Instagram last month about "betrayal" that seemed to be directed at the Knicks organization for waiving his brother Chris.

Smith was benched last Thursday against Miami, the day after the NBA fined him $50,000 for repeatedly trying to untie opponents' sneakers. After Tuesday night's game, Smith said, "I haven't the slightest clue," why he was benched against the Bobcats and that Woodson hadn't spoken to him about it.

Woodson said Wednesday enough has been said.

"After a while, enough talk is enough talk," Woodson said. "After a while the player has got to be more accountable and take more responsibility. That's where we are at this point."

Smith became trade-eligible Wednesday for the first time this season, but he doesn't appear to have much value. Woodson said he doesn't expect Smith to be traded.

"He's here," Woodson said. "We're all in J.R.'s corner. That's never going to change. I've been one of his biggest supporters. That will never change. It's all about team. It's about us doing the right things on and off the floor."

Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler said they're staying out of it, but both acknowledged that they need Smith. "Absolutely we need him," Chandler said on Tuesday. "We need everybody we have on the roster and J.R. is a big part of our success."

When Anthony was asked about Smith playing against the Pacers, he said, "I hope so. That's what we're banking on."

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