Despite being only 19-years-old, Luka Doncic, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, continues to establish an impressive performance in his rookie season and is currently one of the best players of the Dallas Mavericks. In 31 games he played this season, Doncic is averaging 19.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.1 steals on 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 36.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
With the rise of Luka Doncic, Marc Stein of the New York Times (h/t HoopsHype) revealed that many executives believe that the Mavericks will make Dennis Smith Jr. available on the trading block before the February NBA trade deadline.
“The instant emergence of the Dallas rookie Luka Doncic, combined with longstanding skepticism about Smith’s ability to flourish alongside Doncic in an off-the-ball capacity, has spawned the expectation among many executives that Smith will eventually be moved.”
Since the 2018-19 NBA season started, Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. are noticeably having a hard time playing on the court together. Both Mavericks’ young players need the ball in their hands to maximize their effectiveness. Per NBA.com, Doncic has posted a plus-4.3 net rating without Smith on the floor and only a minus-5.4 mark when they shared the court.
In line with the trade rumors surrounding Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks made it clear that they have no intention of moving the former No. 9 overall pick before the February NBA trade deadline. However, on Twitter, Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported that the Mavericks are “at least gauging market” for the 21-year-old point guard.
“@TheSteinLine mentions expectation among execs around league that Dennis Smith Jr. will eventually be moved. Mavs tell Steiny that they aren’t shopping Smith, but that’s semantics. Execs from other teams tell me that Mavs are at least gauging market for their 2017 lotto pick.”
Hopefully everybody is doing better things on Christmas, but here’s the latest: Dennis Smith Jr. says he'll be in uniform by the end of the calendar year: 'I'm making great progress' https://t.co/73GFS2R6br via @sportsdaydfw
— Eddie Sefko (@ESefko) December 26, 2018
Once the Mavericks put Dennis Smith Jr. on the trading block, rebuilding teams who are in dire need of starting caliber point guard like the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic will surely express a strong interest just to add him to their roster. However, it is highly likely that the Mavericks will only consider including Smith Jr. in the trade package if they will be acquiring a superstar or a player who could efficiently play alongside Luka Doncic in return.
Also, before making him available via trade, Dennis Smith Jr. should first prove that he’s 100 percent healthy. As of now, Smith Jr. has already missed five consecutive games due to a sprained right wrist. Smith Jr. said that there is already huge progress regarding his rehabilitation and he expects to rejoin the Mavericks soon.