Second-year Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith, Jr. became the unexpected subject of trade rumors over the past week or so, with the New York Times‘ Marc Stein recently reporting that NBA teams are “monitoring” the youngster’s progress. Prior to that, ESPN recommended a trade that would allow the Mavericks to acquire DeMar DeRozan from the San Antonio Spurs for a package centered on Smith. With these rumors and trade ideas in mind, Bleacher Report, on Thursday, discussed another two of the latter, including a deal that has Smith and Harrison Barnes heading to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross.
Writing for Bleacher Report, Dan Favale described the Magic as a “natural trade partner” in the event the Mavericks decide to trade Smith, considering their weakness at the point guard position. He opined that Orlando would be better off trading for a proven player like Smith, considering the lack of point guard depth expected at the 2019 NBA Draft and the unlikelihood that the Mavericks would end up with the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, who is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent in the summer of 2019.
“Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon (restricted), Terry Rozier (restricted) and D’Angelo Russell (restricted) won’t be as palatable at significantly more expensive price points. Anyone they sign at a reasonable rate will either be a stopgap (Patrick Beverley, Darren Collison) or just not lead-guard material (Cory Joseph, T.J. McConnell),” Favale added.
In addition to Dennis Smith, Jr., small forward Harrison Barnes was mentioned as the second Mavericks player in the proposed trade, as his inclusion in the deal would allow Dallas to free up a significant amount of salary cap space, potentially allowing the team to “build an insta-contender” by signing two maximum-contract free agents.
Per Basketball-Reference, Barnes is in the second year of a four-year, $94.4 million contract he signed in the 2016 offseason, and is the Mavericks’ second-leading scorer behind prized rookie Luka Doncic, with an average of 18.3 points per game. Meanwhile, Smith’s stats are slightly down from his rookie year numbers (15.2 points, 5.2 assists), as he currently averages 13 points and four assists per game for Dallas.
Justifying his recommendation that the Magic include Terrence Ross and Nikola Vucevic in a trade package for Smith and Barnes, Bleacher Report’s Favale wrote that both players are likely not to return to Orlando for the 2019-20 season. Ross, in particular, turns 28 in February and is not the ideal player for a rebuilding roster. He posited that both players could give Dallas a better chance of making the playoffs this season, while also possibly being worth keeping around in the long-term.
As noted by Bleacher Report, both Vucevic and Ross are enjoying career years for the Magic, with Vucevic averaging 20.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, and Ross coming off the bench to score 13.4 points per game.
While Bleacher Report stressed that the above trade idea could potentially help both the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic, it still appears that the Mavericks are planning to hold on to Dennis Smith, Jr. as their point guard of the present and the future. In the aforementioned New York Times report, Stein noted that the Mavericks are “not shopping” the 21-year-old former lottery pick around, despite rumors that other teams are interested in his services.