Guard J.R. Smith could make a return to the court in the New York Knicks' preseason finale Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats. Head coach Mike Woodson told ESPN New York that the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is "ready to go" but a final decision will be made on gameday.
Smith signed a three-year, $18 million contract to remain with the Knicks this offseason but a week later underwent surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus. He only began practicing with the team this week. Smith, Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin could all potentially make their preseason debuts against the Bobcats in Madison Square Garden.
If anything, bringing back Smith will help the Knicks get him on the court sooner once the regular season begins. Smith has been suspended five games for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy, but the penalty doesn't go into effect until the guard is deemed healthy enough to play.
New York's regular season begins Oct. 30 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and the soonest Smith could return to the court in the regular season following the suspension would be a Nov. 10 meeting with the San Antonio Spurs.