New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith will make his season debut Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs after serving a five-game suspension for violating the NBA's drug policy.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Smith, last season's NBA Sixth Man Award winner, will come off the bench.
"We've just got to make sure that mentally he's there," Woodson said. "And I can't burn him physically."
Smith had left knee surgery in July. Woodson plans to limit him to 30 minutes against the Spurs.
Smith told ESPN New York on Saturday that he is still not explosive enough and his conditioning is not where it should be.
"I have good days and bad days," he said.
A week before having surgery, Smith signed a new three-year, $18 million deal with the Knicks. He is coming off a season in which he averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Smith could eventually start. Woodson has said Smith and Iman Shumpert are competing for the starting shooting guard spot.
Sunday, Woodson plans to start point guard Raymond Felton, guard Pablo Prigioni and Shumpert alongside forward Carmelo Anthony and center Andrea Bargnani.