Despite a lack of playing time in New York, Dennis Smith Jr. didn’t ask to be traded, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Smith held his first media session today since the deal, which gives him a chance to revive his career with the Pistons. After suffering a quad injury early in the season and falling out of Tom Thibideau’s rotation, Smith requested a trip to the G League for more playing time and was preparing for the season in Orlando when he heard about the trade.
“I was super excited,’’ he said. “I was down in the ‘G’ getting ready to have our first scrimmage. I heard the news. I was just smiling all day. I couldn’t really sleep that night. I was looking at it as an opportunity and a fresh start and make the most out of it.”
Smith will have a few months to show the Pistons what he can do before they have to make a decision on his future. This is the final year of his rookie contract, and Detroit will have a chance to make him a restricted free agent by submitting a $7MM-plus qualifying offer after the season. Coach Dwane Casey is willing to give him an opportunity.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work,’’ Casey said. “Christian Wood had how many teams (before starring here)? Sometimes a change of scenery is good for everybody. I told him you’re starting out with a clean slate. I don’t care what happened in New York, what happened in Dallas. I don’t care what happened at North Carolina State. It’s what happens here.”
There’s more from Detroit:
- Smith will make his Pistons debut Thursday night against the Pacers, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. He has played just 28 total minutes this season and hasn’t gotten into a game since January 17. “He’s a full go and we’ll see how much he can go tomorrow,” Casey said.
- Derrick Rose left Detroit on good terms, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com, who adds that Rose and the Pistons recognized that he should be with a team that has a shot at the postseason. Casey complimented the job Rose did as a mentor to the team’s young players and noted that he’s already taking on the same role in New York.
- General manager Troy Weaver is off to a strong start in his rebuilding project, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Weaver recognized the potential of free agent forward Jerami Grant, who has turned into a star with the Pistons, and he appears to have guessed right on rookie center Isaiah Stewart, the 16th choice in the draft. Weaver also took a chance on former lottery pick Josh Jackson, who is having the best season of his career.