Two years after a promising rookie season where he was among the key players on a rebuilding Dallas Mavericks team, Dennis Smith Jr. has seen his production decline considerably. And with the former No. 9 overall draft pick struggling for playing time in a New York Knicks point guard rotation where Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton have received most of the minutes, a new report suggests that the Minnesota Timberwolves are among a number of teams interested in acquiring him before the February trade deadline.
Citing unnamed sources, SportsNet New York’s Ian Begley wrote on Wednesday that “several” rival teams have gotten the impression that the Knicks are considering moving one of their point guards. While he didn’t mention which of these players may be placed on the trading block, Begley added that the Timberwolves are one of the many teams that have their eyes on Smith, who was acquired by New York midway through the 2018-19 season in the deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks.
No potential trade packages were mentioned, but Begley quoted one team executive, who reportedly speculated that it’s “unlikely” New York will get a first-round pick in return for Smith. He also noted that the level of interest the Timberwolves supposedly have in the young point guard is still unknown at the moment.
According to his Basketball-Reference player page, Smith is presently averaging career-lows in almost every statistical category. After producing 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game in his rookie campaign in 2017-18, the 22-year-old former North Carolina State Wolfpack star is now averaging just 5.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 17 minutes per game, largely on account of his third-string role behind Ntilikina and Payton. He is also shooting at a substantially lower clip than he did in his first two seasons, as he has knocked down just 33 percent of his shots from the field and 51.7 percent of his free-throw attempts.
Dennis Smith Jr. was built for the Garden pic.twitter.com/TO9L6iOtEy
— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) February 23, 2019
Despite Smith’s declining play, the new rumors are in line with the Timberwolves’ apparent plans to shake up their roster and move on from Jeff Teague, who has started at point guard for Minnesota since the 2017-18 season. As previously noted by ClutchPoints, the team is reportedly open to moving the veteran to a rival team for “the right price.”
Aside from Smith, a few other Knicks players have recently been rumored to be on the move ahead of the February trade deadline. These include Julius Randle, who was acquired just this summer as one of four power forwards New York signed via free agency.