SEPTEMBER 23: The Hornets have officially signed Smith, the team announced today in a press release.
SEPTEMBER 21: The Hornets have agreed to sign Dennis Smith Jr. to a one-year contract, agent Daniel Hazan tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Smith’s deal will be non-guaranteed, per Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
The ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft and a North Carolina native, Smith averaged 15.2 PPG and 5.2 APG in 69 games (29.7 MPG) as a rookie in Dallas, but his shooting percentages (.395/.313/.694) were underwhelming and he was supplanted as the Mavericks’ starting point guard following the arrival of Luka Doncic in 2018.
Smith was subsequently traded to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster in 2019, then was flipped to Detroit in the Derrick Rose deal two years later. Following the expiration of his rookie contract in 2021, Smith signed with the Trail Blazers. He averaged 5.6 PPG and 3.6 APG on .418/.222/.656 in 37 appearances (17.2 MPG) for Portland last season before a UCL tear in his right elbow prematurely ended his season.
While Smith’s contract won’t be guaranteed, he has a potential path to a 15-man roster spot in Charlotte if he shows he’s fully healthy and has a strong preseason. LaMelo Ball is the Hornets’ starting point guard and Terry Rozier will take on some ball-handling responsibilities, but the team’s depth chart is otherwise thin at the point.
Currently, the Hornets have 18 players under contract, including 13 players on guaranteed salaries, four on Exhibit 10s, and one on a two-way contract. The team would have room for one more player on its 20-man training camp roster once Smith is officially signed, assuming restricted free agent Miles Bridges remains in limbo due to his legal troubles.