The 2012-13 NBA Sixth Man of the Year spoke about the new team across the river in New York at his charity golf tournament in Lakewood, NJ yesterday.
“It’s an unbelievable move for J-Kidd [Nets coach Jason Kidd] to have a team like that to start off his first year,” Smith said, implicitly acknowledging the Nets’ summer acquisitions of the Celtics’ Pierce and Kevin Garnett as well as former Timberwolves forward, Andrei Kirilenko.
“They have a great chance to compete for a title. But we’re still the marquee team in New York. A lot of people are counting us out just like last year . We have a lot to prove. We’ll come out with a lot of edge and hopefully put it to positive use on the court.”
Smith also believes he’s the fulcrum by which the Knicks’ success will hinge, so it’s important he gets healthy.
“My motivation is because how bad I played last year [against Indiana in the playoffs]. I’ve seen moves the other teams made. It didn’t affect us unless I don’t play well. If I don’t play well, unfortunately we don’t win. If I play well, we won’t have to worry about anyone else.”
After playing poorly in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Indiana Pacers, Smith had off-season surgery to repair a torn meniscus and chipped patella tendon in his knee.
Smith would like to be back for the start of training camp and suit up for New York in their home opener on October 30 against the same Pacers team that defended him so well last year. But despite no clear-cut timetable for Smith’s return from the off-season surgery, he’s just hungry to get back to being healthy so he can help his team return to the playoffs next season for a chance at vindication.
“I want to come back next year 100 percent and have a better playoffs.”
How much does the success of next year’s Knicks team rely on the play of J.R. Smith?
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