New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith was suspended five games without pay for violating the National Basketball Association’s substance abuse policy.
Smith, 27, who is recovering from knee surgery, will have to sit out the first five games of the 2013-14 season if he is healthy by then, the league announced yesterday in an e-mailed release.
While the league did not specify the nature of the violation, the collective bargaining agreement calls for a five-game suspension following a third violation involving marijuana. The first two violations don’t result in suspensions.
Knicks spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz declined in an e-mail to comment on the discipline.
Smith was voted the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2012-13, coming off the bench to average a career-best 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Those numbers all dipped in the postseason as the Knicks were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the playoffs.
The Knicks in July re-signed Smith to a four-year deal worth about $25 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Smith had left knee surgery in mid-July and the Knicks said then that he would be sidelined for 12 to 16 weeks, which means he might not be ready for the start of the season.
New York opens the season Oct. 30 against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. If he is healthy to start the season, Smith also will miss games against the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and a pair versus the Charlotte Bobcats.
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