I don't know that Lightwave has an equivalent for smoothing groups. This is going to be something of a challenge, but so far the mesh looks good in renders. If there turn out to be problems on some edges I'll probably just have to chamfer them. I think a lot can be accomplished with Lightwave surfaces, though.
The OBJ file imports with only one surface - the LW "default" - and dozens of what Lightwave calls "Parts" which I suspect are the MAX objects (such as "fuselage," "DockingSphere" and so on). I'm able to use the Parts as the basis for assigning surfaces, but most of them do need to be broken down further into subsets of polygons for surface assignment.
As far as the surface normals, I've had to "flip" a few polygons but nothing major.