New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith is expected to be cleared for contact on Tuesday, and the Knicks hope he can play in the team's preseason finale against the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York.
Smith underwent surgery on his left knee in July to repair his patella tendon and a torn lateral meniscus. The 28-year-old has been shooting and running in practice, and once he's cleared for contact, he can scrimmage with the team.
Smith is set to serve a five-game suspension for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy, so if he can return for that final preseason game, that suspension will begin when the Knicks tip off their regular season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 30.
Whenever Smith does return to the lineup, there's a chance he will do so as the starting shooting guard. Smith has expressed interest in starting, while Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he'll give the reigning Sixth Man of the Year a chance to beat out Iman Shumpert for the starting job.