The emergence of Luka Doncic along with skepticism of Dennis Smith Jr.‘s effectiveness on the court alongside the rookie standout has led to the expectation the Mavericks will eventually trade Smith, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports.
Dallas has denied any interest in moving Smith, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). However, executives from other teams tell MacMahon that the Mavericks are “at least gauging [the] market” for their guard.
Smith, 21, is in his second NBA season being drafted in the first round (ninth overall) by the Mavericks in the 2017 NBA Draft. He emerged as a solid player in his rookie season, averaging 15.2 PPG and 5.2 APG for Dallas in 69 games. However, injuries have limited Smith in his sophomore campaign.
The North Carolina State product has played in just three of the Mavericks’ 12 games in December due to a wrist injury. In 21 games, Smith is averaging 13.0 PPG and 4.0 APG, but his field goal percentage has improved from 39.5% as a rookie to 43.7% this season.
As Stein notes, the Mavericks are “plotting” to build their roster around Doncic. Smith would likely attract significant interest and the Mavs also have veteran swingman Wesley Matthews in the final year of his deal as a trade chip.
At 15-17, the Mavericks are just 2.5 games behind the Kings for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Once Smith’s wrist injury improves, he will likely remain a crucial part of Dallas’ rotation, but his future with the team beyond that is to be determined.