LeBron going back to Cavs:

J.R. Smith Sets High Expectations for New York Knicks

Championship or Bust?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It seems as if expectations have been very high for the New York Knicks ever since Carmelo Anthony came to town.

Management made a few additions this offseason to a roster that came in second in the Eastern Conference last season, finishing behind only the Miami Heat. Several teams that finished below them in the standings last year have made some very serious improvements, including the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets.

One of the significant moves the Knicks made was bringing back J.R. Smith, who won Sixth Man of the Year last season. The team also traded for Andrea Bargnani and signed Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih in free agency.

Athletes never seem to be the type of people to be short of confidence. Smith is certainly a good example, as he has plenty of faith in how good his team can be. He even went as far as to say that this season will be a waste if his Knicks don't bring home a ring.

It's not completely surprising to see a player say this, as professional athletes always believe that winning a championship is the ultimate goal. Regardless, you have to believe that J.R. is speaking with just a little bit of optimism here. It would be one thing for LeBron James to say this; it's another to hear it from a team that hasn't made it past the second round of the playoffs.

The Knicks will have plenty of resistance, as the Eastern Conference appears to be much better at the top. Derrick Rose is finally scheduled to return for the Chicago Bulls, putting them back in the championship conversation. After pushing the Miami Heat to the brink the past two seasons, the Indiana Pacers have made moves to solidify a very weak bench. And, of course, the Brooklyn Nets made a huge splash by acquiring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The Knicks are certainly in the mix somewhere, but it will be a very tough road.

If the Knicks end up having the type of season that J.R. is imaging, he will have to be a major part of the equation. Mike Woodson will once again look for Smith to carry the load offensively off the bench, particularly while Melo is on the bench.

Chris lives in Connecticut and covers the New York Knicks. He grew up in New York and is a lifelong follower of the NBA.

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