J.R. Smith wants to start for Knicks

J.R. Smith took an important step toward returning to the Knicks, taking part in running drills Tuesday for the first time since undergoing left knee surgery in July.

When Smith does make it all the way back from the injury — and the five-game suspension he still must serve, once deemed healthy, for violating the NBA’s drug policy — the league’s reigning Sixth Man Award winner prefers it to be as the Knicks’ starting shooting guard.

“I’ve always wanted to start. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows how I feel about that,” Smith said after practice in Greenburgh. “I won the Sixth Man last year, so I felt as though there’s nothing left to prove at the sixth-man spot.

“But at the same time, if that’s what my team needs me to do, that’s what I’ll do. If Coach (Mike Woodson) wants me to be a sixth man, I’ll be a sixth man. If he wants me to start, I’ll start. That’s up to him.”

Reported by Peter Botte of the New York Daily News