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Wednesday, June 11, 2014
J.R.: I want to start

By Ian Begley

J.R. Smith hinted Tuesday that he’s not interested in coming off the bench for the Knicks next season.

Nope no more bench for me!! RT @Stangg_ @TheRealJRSmith getting 6th man this coming season, mark my words

— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) June 10, 2014


Smith won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 2012-13, averaging 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for a Knicks team that won 54 games.

The shooting guard couldn’t replicate those numbers last season during a rocky campaign. He was suspended for the first five games due to a violation of the NBA’s drug policy. He also had offseason knee surgery and the recovery process slowed him early on.

Smith started to find his form later in the season, but also became embroiled in a mini scandal for untying his opponent’s shoelaces. He was fined for his antics and benched -- briefly -- by then-coach Mike Woodson. Woodson was fired at the end of the season by president Phil Jackson, who this week hired Derek Fisher to replace Woodson.

It is unclear at this point if Fisher sees Smith as a starter or a reserve. Those questions will be answered during training camp. But it’s fair to wonder if members of the organization -- Fisher and Jackson included -- got wind of Smith’s tweet. If so, we wonder how they reacted to it.

Smith tweeted later Tuesday that he talked to Fisher.

Just talk to #CoachFish had a great convo! #BringOnTheRings

— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) June 11, 2014


He also clarified his earlier tweet to state that in no way was he demanding to start next season:

#NoWay! #KNICKSTAPE RT @ItBegins2012: @TheRealJRSmith if you have to come off the bench is it time to move on from the knicks ?

— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) June 11, 2014


For what it’s worth, Smith played extremely well late in the season when he was injected into the Knicks’ starting lineup.

He scored 18.1 points per game on 46 percent shooting (43 percent from beyond the arc) as a starter in the final 22 games of the regular season. The Knicks went 16-6 in those games.

In the 52 games prior, Smith averaged 12.9 points on 39 percent shooting. He started 15 of those 52 games.

Question: Do you think J.R. Smith should start for the Knicks next season?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.