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Latest Dennis Smith Jr. Trade Rumors

Trade discussions involving Dennis Smith Jr. have “accelerated” to the point that it would be surprising if the Mavericks don’t make a deal, a team source tells Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Monday that the Mavs’ trade talks for Smith had ramped up.

According to Townsend’s source, neither Smith nor his agent has requested a trade out of Dallas. “[But] if something is out there, they wouldn’t be opposed to it,” the source said of Smith’s camp. “I think this is kind of figuring out what the win-win is.”

Townsend writes that three primary factors are contributing to the Mavericks’ efforts to find a possible new home for Smith. Luka Doncic‘s rapid ascension is an important factor, as is the fact that trade offers for Smith have “escalated” recently, per Townsend. The third factor is Smith’s relationship with head coach Rick Carlisle. In his Monday report, Wojnarowski wrote that Carlisle and Smith “have struggled to find a common ground,” adding that the head coach has “often been frustrated” with the second-year guard’s decision-making.

“On a scale of one-to-10, it’s certainly not a zero,” one Mavericks source told Townsend, referring to the Carlisle-Smith relationship. “It not a zero with any player. But I wouldn’t say it’s a 10, either. It’s a factor, but it’s not something that can’t be figured out if we end up moving forward with what we have, which is honestly what we want to do.”

Wojnarowski’s initial report cited the Magic and Suns as two teams in the mix for Smith. Townsend agrees that Orlando is “heavily” involved, but suggests Phoenix is not. That echoes a report from John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, who said on Monday night that the Suns don’t have any real interest in Smith.

A subsequent report identified the Pistons as another potential suitor for Smith, and Rod Beard of The Detroit News confirms (via Twitter) that there’s at least some “mild” interest from Detroit. However, Beard notes that the cost may be a first-round pick, plus other assets, and it’s not clear if the Pistons would be willing to surrender their 2019 first-rounder and more in a deal for the 2017 lottery pick.

Pistons, Suns, Magic Pursuing Dennis Smith Jr.?

9:19pm: The Mavericks are also searching for deals that would include veteran shooting guard Wes Matthews, who is making $18.6MM in the final year of his contract, Wojnarowski reports in a follow-up story. Also within that story, sources tell Woj that Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle has “often been frustrated with Smith’s decision-making.”

Meanwhile, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 says that Phoenix has no interest in Smith, despite Woj’s report that the Suns have been active in talks with Dallas.

9:00pm: The Pistons have also talked to the Mavs about Smith Jr., longtime NBA columnist Mitch Lawrence tweets.

8:30 pm: The Mavericks are ramping up trade discussions for point guard Dennis Smith Jr., ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. The Suns and Magic are involved in talks with the Mavs, Wojnarowski adds.

Smith Jr. has missed the last three games with a sore back.

There’s tons of buzz regarding Smith Jr., ESPN’s Zach Lowe confirms in a tweet. However, it’s unclear what kind of package the Mavs are seeking for the 21-year-old.

The ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft seemed like a star in the making during his rookie campaign. He averaged 15.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 5.2 APG in 69 games. The North Carolina State is shooting at a more efficient rate this season, improving his overall field goal percentage from 39.5% to 44.3% and his 3-point success from 31.3% to 37.5%. Still, his slash line of 12.6/2.6/3.9 reflects how he’s struggled to find chemistry alongside rookie sensation Luka Doncic.

Smith has also been turnover prone, coughing it up at a rate of 3.1 per game compared to 2.8 last season despite averaging two fewer minutes.

Roster Notes: Wizards, Suns, Blazers, More

Early to mid January is a period of flux for a number of NBA rosters, as teams navigate two key deadlines.

[RELATED: NBA Dates, Deadlines To Watch In January]

All full-season contracts officially became guaranteed on Thursday, after a handful of clubs beat the deadline earlier this week and released players on non-guaranteed contracts to avoid having those cap hits lock in.

The next deadline arrives on January 15, which is the last day of the 2018/19 league year for teams to sign players to two-way contracts. After that day, teams can waive players on two-way deals, or convert them to standard contracts, but they can’t add anyone new on a two-way pact.

With those factors in mind, here are a few teams to keep an eye on within the next week or two:

Washington Wizards:

Having waived Ron Baker on Monday, the Wizards dipped down to 13 players on standard contracts. Teams are permitted to carry fewer than 14 players for up to two weeks at a time, so Washington will have until January 21 to sign or acquire a player to fill that slot.

It’s unlikely that the Wizards will guarantee that 14th player a rest-of-season contract, unless there’s someone they really love. A series of 10-day contracts is more likely, particularly before the February 7 trade deadline arrives.

Phoenix Suns:

The Suns are in a similar spot to the Wizards, with just 13 players on full-season standard contracts. However, Phoenix already filled its 14th roster slot by signing by signing Quincy Acy on Monday.

Still, Acy received a 10-day deal which will expire after next Wednesday, so the Suns are on track to have their roster count drop back to 13 players soon. They’ll have to eventually re-sign Acy or add someone new to the roster in order to get back to the league-mandated minimum of 14 players on standard deals.

Portland Trail Blazers:

In one of 2018/19’s under-the-radar roster oddities, the Trail Blazers have kept both of their two-way contract slots open all season. Portland doesn’t have its own G League affiliate, so perhaps the franchise views two-way players as unnecessary if they’re not contributing to the NBA team — so far, the club hasn’t been short-handed enough to need those extra contributions.

The club’s unsettled ownership situation could also be a factor here. Two-way players are very inexpensive in relative terms, but they still represent two more player salaries that need to be paid. Longtime Blazers owner Paul Allen passed away in 2018, so perhaps the front office hasn’t felt the need to ask ownership for the money for those two extra salaries.

Nonetheless, with Tuesday’s deadline for two-way signings fast approaching, it would be a surprise to see the Trail Blazers leave both spots open for the rest of the season. It could make sense for Portland to sign a player or two with some NBA experience, who could contribute down the stretch if necessary.

New York Knicks / New Orleans Pelicans:

The Knicks and Pelicans are currently the only two other NBA teams with two-way contract openings — they each have one. I’d expect both clubs to fill those slots by the January 15 deadline, though their priorities may be different.

The Pelicans – like Portland – don’t have their own affiliate and may prefer a player capable of helping out right away rather than a raw prospect, given their position in the standings. The Knicks, on the other hand, have their nearby Westchester affiliate at their disposal for developmental purposes. And given their current focus on developing prospects, even at the NBA level, it would be in the club’s best interests to bring aboard another young player for that two-way opening.

Suns Players, James Jones Attend Arena Proposal; Acy Making Early Impact

  • Veteran forward Quincy Acy is making an early impression on the Suns, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Acy signed a 10-day contract to join the team on Monday. “I’m used to kind integrating myself,” Acy said. “Just being myself. I’m a personable guy. I’m just about winning. When everybody is trying to come together and win, everything else goes out the window.”  
  • Suns general manager James Jones was joined by Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Jamal Crawford at a recent downtown discussion for a $230MM proposed arena renovation, according to the Arizona Republic. The proposal would upgrade Talking Stick Resort Arena, where the Suns currently play, along with their practice facilities.

Suns Sign Quincy Acy To 10-Day Deal

JANUARY 7: The signing is official, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

JANUARY 5: With 10-day contracts now permissible, the Suns will sign veteran forward Quincy Acy to the first one of the season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The 28-year-old played 70 games for the Nets last season, but hasn’t been in the league since Brooklyn renounced his rights to generate extra cap space over the summer. Acy spent a year and a half with the Nets after joining the team in January of 2017. He has also played for the Raptors, Kings, Knicks and Mavericks since coming into the league in 2012, but has never spent two full seasons with any team.

Phoenix waived forward/center Eric Moreland on Thursday, giving the team two roster openings. The Suns have until January 17 to get back to the league minimum of 14 players, but they’ve decided not to wait. Moreland cleared waivers today and became a free agent, according to Real GM.

Deandre Ayton Feels Pressure Of Expectations

  • At a recent practice, Suns rookie big man Deandre Ayton discussed the fact that he feels the pressure of expectations, mainly as a result of his competitiveness and desire to win.
  • As the Suns have played better in recent weeks, head coach Igor Kokoskov has enjoyed having the ability to tailor and adjust his rotation on a game-to-game basis depending on the energy from his players and that night’s matchup. Katherine Fitzgerald of The Arizona Republic details how the team’s young players and bench depth have improved in recent weeks.

And-Ones: Trade Deadline, Goodwin, Watson, Williams

There probably won’t be significant activity prior to the trade deadline, according to Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter links). The biggest trades this season may have already occurred, one source told Smith, because teams are intent on preserving salary-cap space for 2019. Still, some expiring contracts could be moved and there’s always a possibility that a team “might get desperate” and do something bold, the same source suggested.

A front-office member from another team believes many of the trades coming before the deadline could be motivated by trying to stay below the luxury-tax line, even if it results in a talent downgrade. However, that executive also believes that there should be more sellers in a month than there are now. “Some of us will get real about our chances and start moving guys,” the source said to Smith.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Guard Archie Goodwin has returned to the United States to join the G League’s Maine Red Claws, the team announced in a press release. Goodwin most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he appeared in a combined 15 games with New Orleans and Brooklyn. The shooting guard played his first three seasons with Phoenix. The Red Claws acquired his returning player rights in a trade prior to the season. Goodwin lost his roster spot with China’s Zhejiang Golden Bulls to former Spurs guard Brandon Paul in late December.
  • Lakers guard and former UCLA star Lonzo Ball has endorsed former Suns coach Earl Watson to be the Bruins’ next coach, Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times report. UCLA recently fired Steve Alford and replaced him on an interim basis with assistant Murry Bartow. “I know Earl personally,” Ball said. “I think he has coaching experience in the league. Obviously, he went there, he’s alumni, so I think he’s a good fit.”
  • Veteran big man Alan Williams is in advanced talks with China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Williams was waived by the Nets this week to allow him to pursue the overseas opportunity. He was on a two-way deal after getting released by the Suns during the offseason. Williams was playing well in the G League but did not make an appearance with Brooklyn.
  • Forward Okaro White, who was waived by the Wizards last month, has signed with the G League’s Long Island Nets, according to Long Island acquired his G League rights last year. The Nets are not using their available two-way slot on White, according to the report. White made three appearances with Washington this season.

Suns Release Eric Moreland

The Suns have waived veteran forward/center Eric Moreland, the team announced today in a press release. Assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers, Moreland will become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday.

Moreland, 27, signed with Phoenix last month and appeared in just one game for the team, playing five minutes in a blowout loss to Golden State on New Year’s Eve.

Moreland was leaned on as a rotation piece in Detroit last season, averaging 2.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 1.2 APG in 67 contests (12.0 MPG) for the Pistons. However, he was cut by in July before his salary for 2018/19 could become fully guaranteed, and spent training camp with the Raptors. He also participated in the latest round of World Cup qualifiers, helping Team USA clinch a berth in this year’s event.

Before releasing Moreland, Phoenix had been carrying 14 players on standard NBA contracts, which is the league-mandated minimum. Teams are allowed to dip down to 13 players for two weeks at a time, so the Suns will have until January 17 to replace Moreland on their roster.

Because Moreland’s contract was non-guaranteed, the Suns will only be on the hook for a prorated portion of his minimum salary. The big man earned approximately $239K during his time in Phoenix.

Scotto’s Latest: Bazemore, Porter, Holiday, Dieng

Any team that trades for Hawks forward Kent Bazemore should prepare to pay him beyond this season, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Scotto shares a few rumors in a column on New Year’s resolutions for all 30 teams, including a report that Bazemore is leaning toward exercising his $19.27MM player option for next year.

That would represent a modest raise for the 29-year-old, who is making a little more than $18MM this season. Bazemore, who is sidelined with a right ankle sprain that will keep him out for at least two weeks, is one of the most popular names on the trade market, with the Rockets among the teams already expressing interest in acquiring him.

Scotto offers a few more interesting tidbits sprinkled among his advice for 2019:

  • The Mavericks have expressed interest in trading for Wizards forward Otto Porter. Washington faces luxury tax concerns this season and beyond and will owe Porter nearly $56MM over the next two years if he exercises his player option for 2020/21. Porter’s production has declined in his sixth season, and the Wizards may concentrate on fixing their long-term salary structure after John Wall elected to have heel surgery that will sideline him for six to eight months.
  • After losing out on the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, the Rockets have continued to search for a defensive-minded wing who can hit 3-pointers. Among the players they called about is Justin Holiday, who is averaging 11.8 PPG with the Bulls and ranks eighth in the league in made threes with 96. Holiday has an expiring $4.4MM deal, so he would be a low-cost option for any contender. Houston is also looking for a rim protector to back up Clint Capela.
  • The Timberwolves tried again to find a taker for center Gorgui Dieng, who has become a little-used reserve, playing just 13.7 minutes per night. Minnesota attempted to unload Dieng, who is owed about $33.5MM over the next two seasons, in Butler trade talks but couldn’t find anyone willing to take on that salary.
  • D’Angelo Russell‘s friendship with Suns star Devin Booker may make him an option for Phoenix. Russell is headed for restricted free agency this summer and the Suns need a long-term solution at point guard. The extension the Nets gave to Spencer Dinwiddie could make them reluctant to invest heavily in Russell.

Suns' Roster Stacked With Length, Athleticism

  • In terms of length and athleticism, the Suns see some similarities between their current roster and their ‘Seven Seconds or Less’ teams from the mid-2000s, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “Just a lot of athleticism,” new Sun Kelly Oubre said. “When we’re at our best, we get stops and we get out in transition and we score. The ball is moving around. Everybody is touching it. Everybody is moving. That’s when we’re at our best. It’s just a lot of length out there. A lot of athletes and guys who can guard multiple positions. It’s kind of difficult for teams to turn downhill.”