Although Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s name has been a staple of trade rumors for several weeks running, it might not be that easy for the team to ship the former lottery pick to another team, a new report suggests.
According to the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney, the Mavericks have three specific challenges as regards their purported plans to trade Smith ahead of next month’s trade deadline. The first challenge, Deveney wrote, is that Dallas needs to find a “suitable deal” for Smith, who was picked ninth overall in the 2017 NBA Draft and has averaged 14.4 points in two seasons in the league. This makes him quite productive in his short career, despite the recent drop-off in performance.
Citing league sources, Deveney wrote that the Mavericks’ second challenge is related to the status of the NBA’s trade market. He noted that there are “certainly” some teams who want to trade for Smith, though these teams have shown some hesitance because of their desire to acquire a more “traditional” young point guard, possibly during this summer’s free agency season.
“He is very athletic, but he’s not a playmaker and not a great shooter,” remarked an unnamed front office executive who spoke to the Sporting News.
“If you have money under the cap this offseason (the Suns and Magic will), there are other guys you can pursue who fit better, who can pass and score.”
While the Orlando Magic and the Phoenix Suns have often been named among Dennis Smith Jr.’s most likely trade destinations, the Sporting News‘ Deveney wrote that these teams — and others — might prefer to go for youthful restricted free agents, such as the Boston Celtics’ Terry Rozier and the Brooklyn Nets’ D’Angelo Russell, instead of hoping against hope that Smith develops into a traditional playmaker.
Lastly, Deveney wrote that the Dallas Mavericks’ third challenge is “unusual” in the sense that the 21-year-old Smith is “already at a standstill” with the team, despite having played just one-and-a-half season in Dallas. He stressed that prized rookie Luka Doncic’s arrival this season has resulted in fewer field goal attempts and touches for Smith, who has also had his share of alleged issues with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. Per Deveney, it appears as if Smith has become the latest point guard to have a hard time dealing with Carlisle’s reputation as a “hardliner” who “runs a tight ship” as head coach.
“All of this has tamped down the market for Smith, and the Mavericks have no interest in dealing a guy of his youth and talent under that kind of cloud.”
As shown on Basketball-Reference, Dennis Smith Jr.’s stats have mostly been on the decline in the 2018-19 season, as he is now averaging 12.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in his second pro season. This can be compared to his 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists during his rookie season. While the Dallas Mavericks seem to be having trouble finding the best possible resolution at this point, the Sporting News concluded by again citing a league source, who believes it’s a “matter of when, not if” Smith gets traded.