Basketball

Dennis Smith Jr. rejoins Knicks after death of stepmother, but is not expected to play against Mavericks

After almost two weeks of mourning the death of his stepmother, Dennis Smith Jr. returned to the Knicks on Thursday.

Still, the point guard is not expected to play Friday against the Mavericks and coach David Fizdale is unsure when Smith Jr. will be available.

"We'll see. I want to see where he's at," Fizdale said. "And how he's feeling and where his conditioning level is at and things like that. Before I tell you guys anything on that, I don't want to speak too soon or anything. Let's see where he's at and make our assessment from there."

Smith Jr. has had a rough couple of weeks. He lost confidence in his shot and was booed during his last game on Oct. 26. Then his stepmother – a woman who helped raise Smith Jr. – died unexpectedly the next day. He attended the funeral in North Carolina and sent out the following message via Twitter on Wednesday:

"I wanna take this time to say thank you to my teammates for their support after the loss my family suffered last week, it meant a lot to me. Also, I truly appreciate the time off that Coach Fiz and the Knicks organization allowed me to take. It was spent around loved ones," he wrote.

Fizdale said he hopes basketball will be comforting for the 21-year-old.

"This. The gym. Basketball has always been all of our saviors," he said. "Anything that's ever happened to me in my life, the only thing that ever made me feel better was being back in the gym. I know for him, that's going to be the best medicine is being with his teammates, being with his coaches and smelling the gym again."

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