Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

J.R.'S Brother on the Bubble

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

J.R.'S Brother on the Bubble

Article excerpt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- J.R. Smith has never had to sweat out the final cuts, a first-round pick out of high school and a key piece to every team he's ever played for.

So while he is expected to make his preseason debut tonight, it is just to shake off the cobwebs after off-season knee surgery and show that he's healthy enough for the clock to start on his five- game suspension on opening night.

But there is some nervousness in the Smith household as the final days of camp tick away. His younger brother, Chris, is on the bubble of the Knicks roster as the team is expected to cut from the 20 players in camp to the final 15.

J.R. Smith scrimmaged Tuesday and worked through some contact drills Thursday and wants to put a summer of trouble behind him.

After a dreadful performance in the Eastern Conference semifinals -- bad enough to prompt him to place the blame for the Knicks loss on his own shoulders -- he put off surgery until after signing a new contract. While this was good for his family fortune, it wasn't so good for the Knicks' preparation for this season.

He then piled on more trouble, testing positive for marijuana for the third time and drawing a five-game suspension that begins when he's healthy enough to be active.

"Yeah, without a doubt, it was an extremely long process," Smith said. "Not being able to play basketball for four-plus months, it's probably the tougher thing I've ever dealt with.

"I'm used to playing every day whenever I want, without barely even stretching. So when you really can't do it, it's one of those things where just mentally you're out of it a lot of the time. It feels good to get my head in a good place mentally and work with my teammates and just be one of the guys."

Smith shouldn't take long to get back to normal, still lacking his explosiveness, but confident that it has improved steadily and will come soon. But whether it will be a family affair is a mystery expected to be resolved today.

The younger brother was put in an awkward spot Wednesday when coach Mike Woodson admitted that the consideration of a roster spot was aided by being J. …

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