By Max Marcilla
As I look at the schedule, in my humbled opinion, the beginning of the season shouldn’t be all that challenging for the Knicks, even without the reigning 6th Man of the Year award winner. While it is very hard to predict a timetable on a comeback, for the sake of the article, I’ll say J.R. misses the first two weeks (seven games). In those seven games, the Knicks play 3 games against teams that didn’t make the playoffs, the other four teams are against the Bucks (an 8-seed team that has declined), the Bulls, the Spurs, and an Atlanta Hawks team that have struggled against the Knicks in the “Melo” era.
“So what?” you might say. Not a tough stretch to start the season – BUT! Wait. Who really trusts the Knicks medical staff? What if they focus on the Chicago and San Antonio games, and try to rush J.R. Smith back? Will he be ready? Will he re-injure himself? How bad could it be? This is a lot of questions I know, but I have my reasons.
We all saw it last year, not once, but twice with Amar’e Stoudemire. First, the Knicks rushed STAT back against Portland. He started off struggling, but then, what I call, “Vintage STAT” was a sight for sore eyes. He was very good in this comeback, and he even had a stretch where he couldn’t miss. However, then the worst possible thing happened. DOWN GOES STAT, DOWN GOES STAT!
STAT gets injured. Out for months. Knicks (AGAIN!!!) rush him back for the second round of the playoffs, and whattaya know… STAT is ineffective, and the $20+ million investment is sitting on the bench for almost the entire series, alongside some ineffective players like James White, and Steve Novak.
Once again, in case you don’t understand how terrible that is, Amar’e Stoudemire is being put in the same category as James White and Steve Novak.
What if J.R. Smith is in that situation? What if J.R. Smith is sitting on the bench in his finest suit, watching his team struggle? What if the Knicks need a second scorer, and the man they just offered a big contract to is sitting on the bench? That could happen.
Knick fans, I don’t want to scare you. I have a lot of trust in the Knicks doctors as well as J.R. Smith to inform them if he is not ready, However, anything can happen in the NBA, especially with the Knicks. We saw it last year, and we could very easily see it again.
Let’s hope for the best, as well as a speedy recovery for Mr. Smith, the man we have all grown to love or hate. Let’s hope he comes back 100%, and stays that way.