GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The adjustment to the triangle offense has been "a struggle" for J.R. Smith, and it isn't just because the system is foreign to him.
A candid Smith admitted that he must alter his shooter mentality and wrap his mind around the team-first concept being preached by Knicks coach Derek Fisher and president Phil Jackson.
And it hasn't been the smoothest transition for the former Sixth Man of the Year, who has been trying not to force shots.
"Yeah, absolutely," Smith said when asked if he has had to make a conscious effort to play differently. "I mean, believe it or not, being the type of player I've been, it's a struggle. I'm not going to lie.
"Trying to think about the rest of the team over myself or my scoring is something that I never really had to do before," Smith continued. "I've always been in a situation to score, [now I'm] in position to take my time and let the game come and let my teammates succeed more than myself, I think that's the ultimate win."
The Knicks' adjustment to the triangle, not just physically but mentally, will take time. It has not been easy so far in the preseason for the Knicks, who also have had to deal with injuries to Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.
Smith admitted his struggles after scoring five points in 23 minutes in a 103-100 win over the Wizards on Wednesday night.
This preseason, Smith is averaging 8.5 points and shooting 39 percent from the field in six preseason games. Smith said Fisher has explained why the team-first mentality that comes with the triangle works.
"He just told me -- look at the rings they have," Smith said. "It's worked. I want one so bad, I'll do whatever it takes. If it takes me sacrificing my scoring, that's what it takes."
Fisher says the project of installing the triangle and the overhaul in mentality will not happen overnight.
"You know J.R. like many players, this is difficult to do," Fisher said at practice Thursday. "Last night, we talked about we're not just installing new software to the computer. We're building a computer from scratch, and that's not easy to do."
When Jackson took over as team president of the Knicks, one of his major goals was to develop a new culture and way of thinking in the franchise. Like he did with his previous stops with the Bulls and Lakers, Jackson wants his players to think about the team first, shedding all individualistic tendencies.
In an interview with Charley Rosen for ESPN.com, Jackson said Smith has to improve his shot selection and trust the triangle.
"J.R. Smith is easily the best athlete on the team," Jackson said. "But J.R. has to learn the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. He has to trust that the triangle will create good shots and to avoid searching for his own shot.
"His defense also needs work because he tends to be a ball-watcher, and he's late in chasing his man around screens when he should be tailgating him," Jackson added. "Defense is the key to any winning team, so Smith has to really work hard on his deficiencies in training camp."
Carmelo Anthony wants Smith to know he is not alone in this transition or "test" as the Knicks' franchise star described it.
"I don't think it's a struggle for J.R.," said Anthony, who scored 30 points and beat the Wizards with a shot and the foul for a game-winning, 3-point play with 13.9 seconds on Wednesday. "It's something new for everybody. It's a test. It's a new system. ... I can just put my arm around him and tell him be patient."
"It's going to work itself out," Anthony added. "And the more we play, the more we're going to get used to this system, the more we're going to find where he can be productive, I can be productive, everybody can be productive."
Anthony made it clear that he needs Smith this season.
"It's easy to feel like you're kind of left out of what's going on, [but] everybody is going through the same thing," Anthony said. "He'll be all right. It's preseason. We need him. He knows we need him. We know we need him. He's a big part of what we're trying to do."