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Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Coach: J.R. Smith's 'got to grow up'

By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson has a simple message for the recently suspended J.R. Smith -- it's time to grow up.

Woodson said Wednesday that the Knicks were "disappointed" in Smith, the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year award winner, for violating the NBA's anti-drug program. The violation triggered a five-game ban for Smith.

Woodson said Smith "has got to grow up and do the right things."

"I'm not going to throw him out to pasture," Woodson said. "My job is to coach him and make sure something like what happened doesn't happen again. That's what we do as coaches. I expect his teammates to show him some love.

"But at the end of the day, he's got to do the right thing by J.R., and his teammates and me as a coach in this organization and the fans that support him. That's what it's all about."

Smith is recovering from offseason knee surgery and might not be ready for the beginning of the regular season. His suspension will begin with the first game for which he is eligible and physically able to play. Smith needs to be cleared by team doctors and an independent doctor from the league before he's deemed healthy enough to return to the floor.

The Knicks re-signed Smith in July to a three-year contract worth approximately $18 million, with a player option for the third year. He underwent knee surgery one week after signing and is expected to miss training camp.

Woodson hopes Smith's suspension can serve as a lesson for the 28-year-old.

"You talk about missing the first five games, I'm not happy about it," Woodson said. "But hey, we know what we're facing and we've got to get through it and we've got to make sure that it's something that he understands that's something that can't happen again."

The NBA declined to comment specifically on Smith's violation. According to a summary of the program provided by the league, a third positive test for marijuana results in a suspension that is "five games longer than the player's immediately-preceding marijuana suspension." That is the sole scenario in which a five-game ban is administered.

Smith addressed the suspension Monday when he apologized for letting the organization down.

"I'm more disappointed because I let my teammates and my coaches down more than anything," Smith said Monday during the Knicks' media day. "I let [Knicks owner James] Dolan down."

Smith averaged 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season and played an integral role in the Knicks' regular-season success. But he struggled mightily in the playoffs, making just 33 percent of his field goal attempts.

A turning point in Smith's postseason seemed to be his one-game suspension for elbowing Jason Terry in Game 3 of the Knicks-Celtics series. He shot 43.5 percent from the field before his Game 4 suspension and 29 percent after the ban.

"I call it 'pissing the NBA gods off,'" Smith said Wednesday. "You're making, making, making a lot of shots -- and you mess with the basketball game and the game gets you back. And it definitely got me back."