Sep 30, 2013; Tarrytown, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith answers questions during media day at MSG Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks' J.R. Smith to start practicing

It’s been no secret that the New York Knicks have been a bit banged up during training camp.

It’s also been no secret that it’s been a drama filled offseason for Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith.

Hopefully both situations start to get a little better.

May 14, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) drives around Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson (1) in game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 93-82. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

According to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, Smith was cleared to practice today. The swingman was expected to scrimmage and could be on pace to play in the team’s final preseason game.

For the Knicks, this is big as they are starting to get some of their key pieces healthy for the season. There are still some bumps and bruises among many Knicks players, but when the season begins October 30, it is very important for the team to be as healthy as possible.

For Smith, being back on the court is even bigger.

Coming off the best season of his career, in which he emerged as the Knicks legitimate second scoring option; Smith didn’t exactly handle things very well.

Sure, there will be questions about his clubbing before games, his dreadful performance in the postseason, his suspension for marijuana and the fact that he waited to have knee surgery until after signing his new contract. But just being back on the floor with his teammates, Smith can take a positive step to putting all of that behind him for the time being.

It’s important that Smith progresses through practice enough so he can play in the final preseason game. If he does, the clock will start ticking on his five-game suspension beginning on opening night.

“Without a doubt [it will be exciting] to finally to get out there with my guys and get knocked around a little bit,’’ Smith told Berman. “It gets frustrating looking on the court, see them practicing, working hard, the camaraderie. It gets frustrating.

“It will be great for me to be out there, not just for myself but the team.’’

There’s also the fact that he wants to show he is healthy enough to be a starter this season, something Smith and Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson seem to have been pushing for.

Whether he is in the starting lineup when he is eligible to play a regular season game or in his familiar role coming off the bench, it’s a good thing for the Knicks that Smith is back on the floor.

We will find out after Tuesday how his knee responds to his first full contact.

If he does well, I would expect to see Smith in uniform for the season’s sixth game against the San Antonio Spurs.

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