The next day, at the team’s shootaround, Smith’s mood had lifted as he chatted with Allan Houston, the Knicks’ assistant general manager, who oversees the BayHawks. In an interview, Houston praised Smith’s work ethic and his family and said, “We see him as a player we want to develop and see potential in.”

Smith had changed his mind about having something to prove.

“Of course I have stuff to prove,” he said. “But I haven’t really played since I left Louisville. I mean I feel like I’m one of the most underrated players right now. But I’ve always been underrated. Nobody really expects me to do anything. They always look at me as J. R.’s little brother, because he’s a phenom athlete, sixth man of the year and all that. But I’ve always had my own platform, my own goals.”

The BayHawks’ season opener that night was his next humbling step. Smith made his professional debut coming off the bench against the Canton Charge, playing at the newly renovated Erie Insurance Arena downtown on Friday night. A few blocks away, State Street was quiet. Event parking at a nearby garage cost $4.

No marquee announced his arrival. The team will not use Smith for marketing because players come and go so frequently, said Matt Bresee, the team president. The Knicks did not tell Smith how long he would stay but said they would pay his salary, hotel expenses and per diem while he was here.