May 16, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers in game 5 of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffsat Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 85-75. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

J.R Smith to come off Knicks bench upon return

When the New York Knicks take on the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, last year’s Sixth Man of the Year Award winner J.R. Smith will make his season debut after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason, followed by serving a five-game suspension for marijuana use.

May 18, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith (8) reacts to losing to the Indiana Pacers in game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats New York 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

However when Smith takes the court for the first time on Sunday, many want to know what role Knicks head coach Mike Woodson will have Smith in?

According to Jonah Barlow of, Woodson is going to keep Smith in his familiar bench role and use the same five starters as he did Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.


All offseason there was speculation that upon his return Smith would forgo his bench role and be inserted as the starting shooting guard.

Woodson hinted at that fact on numerous occasions, but at least at the beginning Smith will be coming off the bench.

I wouldn’t entirely rule out the fact that Smith could eventually start as Woodson still hasn’t gotten a grip on his rotations in the early going. The injury to center Tyson Chandler also complicates those rotations, as well as the minute’s limit to both Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin.

It may take a while, but once Woodson figures things out, he may change Smith’s role.

But for now it will be as a bench guy.

Woodson didn’t speculate on how many minutes Smith will play in his first game, but his scoring off the bench will be a welcome addition to the Knicks lineup.

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