Dennis Smith Jr.

Central Notes: D. Smith, LeVert, Wade, Bulls

Pistons guard Dennis Smith Jr., acquired in a trade with the Knicks on February 7, has shown flashes since that deal of the potential that made him a lottery pick in 2017. Smith has averaged 8.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 1.3 SPG for Detroit, and had his best game on Wednesday, putting up a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over the Raptors.

Smith and teammate Mason Plumlee were the first Pistons players to put triple-doubles in the same game in 57 years (link via Pistons.com). Before joining his new team, Smith had only played in three games for the Knicks this season and had requested to play in the G League.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Pacers guard Caris LeVert has progressed to doing practice drills, and 1-on-1 training, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. LeVert underwent surgery to remove a previously unknown kidney cancer in January after being traded to the Pacers in the four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn.
  • Cavaliers second-year forward Dean Wade, who recently had his 2020/21 salary guaranteed, has started in the last five games after no prior starts in his first 35 NBA games. Most recently, he had 17 points and six rebounds against the Pacers on Wednesday. “I never doubted myself,” Wade said, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “Obviously, through the whole journey, every once in a while, you’re going to think, ‘Can I do it?’… “I’ve always believed in myself.”
  • Tension between a head coach and a GM has been a recurring theme for Jerry Reinsdorf‘s franchises over the years, but there doesn’t seem to be any drama between new Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovanwrites Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I think he’s doing a great job,” Karnisovas said of Donovan. “I’ve watched all the media availabilities by him… And I think the one question that’s always coming up is, ‘When do they meet? When do they talk?’ We talk every day. We talk before every practice, we spend time during practices, talk after practices, before games, after games, so the communication is always there. I expected that, and more so, there’s no misunderstandings from my side or his side.” 

Eastern Notes: Smith Jr., Hill, Hornets, Heat

Pistons guard Dennis Smith Jr. has looked reborn during his time with the team so far, proving to be reasonably effective in his first nine games, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

Smith, who was traded to Detroit from New York earlier this month, has averaged 7.9 points and 3.2 assists in 18.6 minutes per contest since the move. The two teams are set to meet on Sunday night from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

“Truth be told, you never want to get too comfortable because you end up being complacent,” Smith said. “But you can definitely tell when the feel for the game starts to comes back, especially from the situation I was coming from. I can feel my feel coming back for me.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference today:

  • Hawks forward Solomon Hill said the Heat never made an offer to retain him in free agency, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Hill, who wound up signing a one-year deal with Atlanta, has averaged 4.5 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 18.9 MPG in 33 games this season.
  • The Hornets are set to be without several players for their game against the Kings on Sunday night, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Gordon Hayward (right hand contusion) and Cody Zeller (left hip contusion) have both been downgraded to doubtful. Their absences would leave the club with just nine available players for the contest due to various injuries, Bonnell notes.
  • One of the Heat‘s top “bubble lineups” is finally back in place, Barry Jackson writes for The Miami Herald. The team has won five straight contests and is working to bounce back from a COVID- and injury-riddled start to the season, playing the 14-19 Hawks on Sunday night.

Central Notes: LaVine, Young, Lamb, Nance, Pistons

Zach LaVine is enjoying a career year in Billy Donovan‘s first season with the Bulls, and the success of that pairing bodes well for the team’s long-term outlook, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Donovan won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, and word around the NBA suggests that LaVine won’t be either, Johnson adds.

With LaVine expected to be unavailable on the trade market in the coming weeks, the Bulls’ most valuable trade chip could be Thaddeus Young. ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) says a handful of league executives identified Young as a player who could impact the playoff race if he’s moved, noting that he’s a versatile big man on a reasonable contract who has plenty of postseason experience.

The Bulls currently hold the sixth seed in the East and figure to be in the mix for a playoff spot – perhaps via the play-in tournament – but Marks argues the club should take a big-picture view and consider moving Young, especially if a team is willing to give up a first-round pick for him.

Johnson, on the other hand, contends in a separate NBC Sports Chicago story that moving Young for anything short of a lottery pick or a very promising young player might be a mistake. As Johnson explains, the veteran forward has had a positive impact on LaVine on and off the court, and LaVine and the Bulls’ other young players need to get some postseason experience at some point — Young could play an important role in helping get them there.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • It has been a full year since Jeremy Lamb suffered a torn left ACL, and while it takes some players a while to get back to 100% following that injury, the Pacers guard has thrived since making his season debut on January 20, writes Wheat Hotchkiss of Pacers.com. Lamb is averaging 12.2 PPG in just 24.7 minutes per contest, and has made an even 50% of his three-point attempts through 17 games. “It’s great to see how far I’ve been able to come,” Lamb said. “I’m still getting stronger, still working on it, but it’s encouraging.”
  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr., who underwent surgery on his hand earlier this month, is making positive progress and recently had his cast removed, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Nance was ruled out at least six weeks when he underwent the procedure, so we won’t see him back until sometime after the All-Star break.
  • Missing their top two point guards, the Pistons are seeing some positive signs from Dennis Smith Jr. and Saben Lee, says Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Lee, who has averaged 15.3 PPG and 4.3 APG in his last three games, is showing why GM Troy Weaver referred to him as part of Detroit’s “core four” of rookie building blocks, despite the fact that Lee was a second-round pick who signed a two-way deal, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

Central Notes: Holiday, Pistons, Griffin, Pacers

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday hasn’t played since February 6 due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, but he was back on the team’s bench for Sunday’s win over Sacramento, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic details. While Holiday wasn’t able to suit up on Sunday, his presence on the sidelines was a promising sign, since it means he’s out of quarantine and should be cleared soon.

“He’s close. He’s getting very close,” Budenholzer said of the Bucks’ starting guard. “I think I’m just going to make sure to not make a mistake and say he’s progressing through the health and safety protocols.”

Assuming Holiday is returning from a positive COVID-19 test, which is the belief, he requires a two-day ramping-up period and has to pass certain cardiac tests before he’s given the go-ahead to play in a game. Holiday didn’t practice today, per Budenholzer (Twitter link via Nehm), but the hope is that it won’t be much longer before he’s back in the Bucks’ lineup.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • With Killian Hayes already sidelined and Delon Wright now out for at least a couple weeks, the Pistons‘ young point guards will have an opportunity to show what they’re capable of, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes (subscriber-only link). While Dennis Smith Jr. was expected to be the main beneficiary, it was two-way player Saben Lee who played 33 minutes on Sunday after Smith got the start. Frank Jackson should also in the mix, but didn’t log any playing time on Sunday.
  • The days of Blake Griffin being a focal point of a team’s offense are over, but his impending divorce with the Pistons will give him an opportunity to revamp his game and try to adjust to a complementary role, says Rafael Canton of RealGM.
  • Postponed games on Saturday and Monday gave the Pacers an opportunity to hold an impromptu “mini-camp,” as head coach Nate Bjorkgren looks to install new tweaks to his offensive and defensive systems, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana will have a total of six days off between its last game vs. Minnesota on February 17 and its next game vs. Golden State on February 24.

Pistons Notes: Smith Jr., Casey, Rose, Weaver

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.

Knicks Trade DSJ, Second-Rounder To Pistons For Derrick Rose

FEBRUARY 8: The deal is official, the Knicks announced (via Twitter).


FEBRUARY 7, 2:50pm: The two teams are in agreement, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The Knicks are acquiring Rose from the Pistons in exchange for Smith and Charlotte’s 2021 second-rounder.


12:11pm: Derrick Rose is set to be reunited with the Knicks and with his former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau. New York is nearing an agreement to acquire Rose from the Pistons in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr. and future draft equity, per James Edwards III and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Steve Popper of Newsday tweets that the draft pick being sent to the Pistons in the Rose deal will not be the Pistons’ own 2021 second-round pick that the Knicks possess, but could be the 2021 second-round pick that the Hornets owe the Knicks.

News on the exact terms of the trade have yet to be announced. How adding Rose, a savvy veteran scoring point guard with a defined ceiling, will impact the still-developing Knicks’ rotation will be interesting to see. Fan favorite rookie Immanuel Quickley and off-guard Austin Rivers may be especially liable to feel the squeeze, but whether Thibodeau opts to start Rose in place of the more defensively-oriented Elfrid Payton is unclear.

The upstart Knicks are currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with an 11-13 record. Offloading future draft picks for a 32-year-old veteran in a move to improve the current on-court product is a curious decision for a club that had very much been prioritizing young players this season. Even All-Star hopeful Julius Randle is only 26.

The Knicks were not the only team in the market for Rose’s services this season. The Clippers, Heat, Bucks, and Nets were apparently all interested in dealing for Rose, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Charania adds (via Twitter) that Rose and the Pistons mutually agreed a trade was in both sides’ best interests. The Knicks had been floated as Rose’s “preferred destination” due to his familiarity with Thibodeau and his tenure with the team in 2016/17, his last season as a full-time starter.

Rose is in the final season of a two-year, $15MM contract he inked with Detroit in the summer of 2019. Across 22.8 MPG, Rose has been averaging 14.2 PPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.9 RPG in 15 games for the 5-18 Pistons, the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

Smith, meanwhile, has dropped out of the Knicks’ rotation. He has appeared in just three games for the Knicks this season, but could be counted on to play a bigger role for the Pistons. With 2020 No. 7 lottery pick Killian Hayes injured for the immediate future, Delon Wright has assumed Detroit’s starting point guard duties. In the absence of Hayes, two-way rookie Saben Lee had emerged as the the third pure point guard option behind Rose.

Both Rose and Smith will be free agents at season’s end — Smith is eligible for restricted free agency, though it would require a $7MM qualifying offer from Detroit. The Pistons will have his full Bird rights, while the Knicks will have Rose’s Early Bird rights.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pistons Notes: DSJ, Knox, Grant, Rookies

Instead of heading to the G League, Dennis Smith Jr. will get a chance to revive his career in Detroit, writes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Smith and a second-round pick were the price the Knicks paid to acquire long-time Tom Thibodeau favorite Derrick Rose. The move is another step in the rebuilding process for Detroit, which already owns the league’s worst record at 5-18.

It’s the second trade in 24 months for Smith, who had two disappointing seasons in New York after being acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis deal. He fell far out of the rotation after Thibodeau took over and got into just three games this season. He’s far more likely to get playing time with the Pistons, especially with Killian Hayes recovering from a torn labrum in his right hip. Detroit saved nearly $2MM in the deal and will get a few months to evaluate Smith before deciding whether to extend a $7MM+ qualifying offer when his rookie deal expires after this season.

A bigger prize for Detroit is the draft pick, which originally belonged to the Hornets, Edwards states. The Pistons also own the Raptors’ second-round choice, along with their own first-rounder, which currently has the best odds of being No. 1 overall. The team is positioned to add more young talent in a draft class that is considered to be one of the best in years.

There’s more this morning from Detroit:

  • The Pistons were initially asking for Kevin Knox instead of Smith, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who speculates that the Knicks could be saving Knox for another trade.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey believes free agent addition Jerami Grant should be an All-Star selection (video link from The Detroit News). Grant has stepped up his game since signing with Detroit, averaging 24.0 PPG, double what he scored last year in Denver. “I hope the true basketball fan sees what he’s doing, the all-around game, not just the scorer,” Casey said.
  • Edwards and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examine the progress of the Pistons’ rookies through the first third of the season. Hayes was still adjusting to the NBA when he suffered the injury, Saddiq Bey has been a valuable shooter but is otherwise limited offensively, and Isaiah Stewart has been impressive with his energy and competitiveness.

Latest On A Potential Derrick Rose Trade

The Knicks are a “preferred destination” for Derrick Rose because of coach Tom Thibodeau and the experience the Pistons guard had when he played in New York during the 2016/17 season, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Word broke last night that the Knicks, along with the Clippers and a few other teams, are engaged in trade talks involving Rose.

Sources tell Berman that New York is willing to part with any of its three former lottery picks who aren’t in the rotation under Thibodeau — Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. However, Berman doesn’t expect Knox, the youngest of the three at age 21, to be included in the deal.

Berman also believes the team will hold on to the 2021 first-round pick it received from Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. With Dallas off to a 10-14 start, there’s a chance it could become another lottery selection. Berman notes that the Knicks have flexibility in a deal because they have $18MM in cap room and won’t have to match Rose’s $7.2MM salary.

He also points out that Saturday marked the first day that free agents who signed in November can be traded. That means Austin Rivers, Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks are all eligible to be moved.

There’s more on a potential deal:

  • Sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that Ntilikina’s name has been brought up in trade talks. The point guard has an expiring contract and will be a restricted free agent after the season. Begley notes that the Pistons will likely ask for at least one draft pick, but he doesn’t think New York is willing to give up a first-rounder. Some Knicks representatives believed the team was close to acquiring Rose during the offseason, according to Begley. He adds that if New York pulls off a deal, it will probably be with the intention to re-sign Rose, who is also headed for free agency. The Knicks would own his Early Bird rights and could offer a contract ranging from two to four years with a starting salary up to $13.4MM or a one-year deal for as much as $9.2MM.
  • The Pistons are interested in acquiring Smith, who recently asked to be sent to the G League for more playing time, writes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. With Blake Griffin‘s expensive contract likely on the books for another season, new general manager Troy Weaver has been working to reduce salary in other areas.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic examines how a Rose deal would affect the Knicks, particularly rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley.

New York Notes: DSJ, Brazdeikis, Harper, Harden, Shumpert

The Knicks have granted Dennis Smith Jr.‘s request to be sent to the G League bubble, announcing today (via Twitter) that the former lottery pick is among the players being assigned to the Westchester Knicks. Smith reportedly asked to be sent to Westchester in order to get some regular minutes, since he hasn’t been part of the rotation in New York this season.

In addition to Smith, the Knicks have assigned second-year forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the G League and transferred two-way player Jared Harper there as well. Those three members of New York’s 17-man NBA roster will join a Westchester squad that also features former NBA first-round picks like Skal Labissiere and James Young.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York-based teams:

  • Unlike Harper, Theo Pinson – the Knicks‘ other two-way player – will remain with the NBA team rather than heading to the G League. As Marc Berman of The New York Post explains (via Twitter), Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, who formerly represented Pinson at CAA, loves the 25-year-old as a locker-room presence.
  • James Harden missed Sunday’s game vs. Washington due to a left thigh contusion, but it’s not expected to be an injury that lingers or keeps the Nets star sidelined for much longer, according to head coach Steve Nash. “I think it’s pretty manageable, but just a precautionary measure not to get it banged again and make it severe,” Nash said on Sunday, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “… Hopefully, it’s just this game.”
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Lewis examines how offseason acquisition Bruce Brown has established himself as a regular part of the Nets‘ rotation.
  • Barring a setback in the health and safety protocols, Iman Shumpert – who signed with the Nets over the weekend – should be available by Saturday’s game vs. Philadelphia, says Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. As Schiffer notes, besides playing for the Nets last season, Shumpert has also played alongside Harden and for Mike D’Antoni in the past, giving him a level of comfort in Brooklyn.

Atlantic Notes: DSJ, Knicks, Sixers, J. Green

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau believes the G League will be a great opportunity for Dennis Smith Jr. this season, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

Smith reportedly asked to play in the G League due to receiving a lack of minutes, a wish that’s expected to be granted. The Knicks’ minor league affiliate team in Westchester is among 18 clubs attending the G League bubble this season, which is set to tip off on Feb. 10.

“I think the G League is a very valuable tool,” Thibodeau said. “I think you see it being used more and more by virtually every team in the league. It’s an opportunity, you can get obviously a lot out of practice, but I think playing time is important, also. So when we have those opportunities, we do want to utilize it. I think it will be great for him.”

Smith has only appeared in three games this season, logging a total of 28 minutes. The former No. 9 pick played 34 games with the team last season, averaging 5.5 points, 2.9 assists and 15.8 minutes per contest on 34% shooting.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • Thibodeau has a decision to make on the team’s starting point guard going forward, Popper examines in a different story for Newsday. New York must choose between veteran Elfrid Payton and rookie Immanuel Quickley, with Payton starting in the club’s first 20 games this season. Quickley has shown flashes of potential, however, averaging 11.6 points in 18.5 minutes per game off the bench. His current shooting marks sit at 39.5% from the floor and 38% from downtown.
  • Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer examines how many All-Stars the Sixers should have this season. Joel Embiid, who’s currently enjoying a career-best season to date, is widely expected to be named to his fourth All-Star Game, but Pompey ponders whether Ben Simmons or Tobias Harris could make cases of their own.
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post examines the strong production Jeff Green has offered for the Nets. Green, a 13-year NBA veteran, has provided frontcourt depth as a starter and off the bench this season. The 34-year-old is averaging 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 25.2 minutes per game, shooting 55% from the field and 44% from three-point range. “He’s been outstanding,” head coach Steve Nash said as part of a larger quote. “He’s been great on the court, his versatility, his experience and his skill has been really important to us. [But] his maturity, his personality, his leadership, he’s really added a ton to our team in that respect.”