J.R.: 'I'm getting healthy ... I feel good'

LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- On July 15, J.R. Smith had left patella tendon surgery and an arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee.

About three weeks later, on Thursday at the Eagle Ridge Golf Club for Smith's golf tournament to benefit his youth foundation, he was walking around without a brace on his knee.

The 2013 Sixth Man Award winner is making progress.

"I'm good," he told a small group of reporters outside of the clubhouse. "I'm getting healthy, doing my rehab, everything the Knicks want me to do. I feel good."

The initial recovery time for Smith's surgery, which was performed by team orthopedist Dr. Answorth Allen at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, was approximately 12 to 16 weeks. That marked his potential return near the start of this upcoming season.

The Knicks open the season Oct. 30 at home against Milwaukee. At this point, Smith isn't sure if he'll be ready to go by then.

"It's still too early to tell from what I hear -- from the doc and all that," said Smith, whose current rehab consists of pool workouts and riding the exercise bike. "I hope so. I want to be there opening night. I want to start the training camp off with my team and with my teammates."

A few weeks ago, when Knicks GM Glen Grunwald addressed Smith's setback, he said the 27-year-old shooting guard actually started experiencing knee pain last year during training camp, and that he played through the pain all season.

Smith commented on that Thursday.

"I hate sitting out and I hate to be the guy in the gym watching everybody else play. So I wanted to play through it no matter what," he said. "The doctors told me to sit out and wait, sit two, three games during the season last year, and I didn't want to do it. I wanted to play as many games as I could. I ended up playing 80 out of 82, which isn't so bad."

Smith's initial plan for this summer was to rest his knee, but that wasn't enough.

"I thought it was going to get better with time off," he said. "Dr. [Lisa] Callahan [who works with Dr. Allen] told me, 'Just take the two, three weeks and see how you feel.' I felt as though it wasn't getting better. She kind of predicted it wasn't going to, and she just thought it would be better to get it over with."

One thing that Smith wrapped up quickly was his free-agency decision. Though he said his agent, Leon Rose, received offers from other teams, Smith never wanted to leave New York.

"For me, it was easy," said Smith, who re-signed on July 11. "I knew where I wanted to be. I wanted to be a Knick. I still want to be a Knick until I retire, so it wasn't really a long, drawn-out process."

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.