GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Wednesday that J.R. Smith needs to “grow up and do the right things” after the sixth man was suspended five games by the NBA for violating the anti-drug policy.
Woodson said he was disappointed in Smith’s actions but would continue to support him.
“I’m not going to throw him out to the 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, and I expect his teammates to show him 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 and this organization and the fans that support him. I mean, that’s what it’s all about.
“He’s got to grow up and do the right things.”
Smith has been in trouble on and off the court during his career but was credited with showing more maturity last season while winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. Then he received a one-game suspension in the playoffs for foolishly throwing an elbow into Jason Terry‘s face in Game 3 of a first-round series against Boston before getting hit with the five-game ban last month.
Smith is recovering from knee surgery, and Woodson doesn’t know when he will be able to return. Once the guard is healthy, he will miss his first five games. Woodson said he hopes that’s a learning experience for Smith.
“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 he understands it’s something that can’t happen again.”
Smith said Monday that he was disappointed that he let his teammates and coaches down. He was asked Wednesday if he thought he had something to prove after the negative publicity he has received in the last few months.
“I think every day I step into the gym I have something to prove, not to anybody else but to myself,” he said. “I feel I can always get better. I have so much room for improvement, and I just want to be the best player I can be. Right now I’m not at the elite level yet.”