The NBA rumor mill is starting to heat up as the trade deadline draws near. The Mavericks have reportedly engaged in discussions on finding a trade partner for point guard Dennis Smith Jr. The former lottery pick has struggled in his first two seasons in the NBA and with the emergence of Luka Doncic as a playmaker, it might be time to explore options.
On the latest episode of the Open Floor podcast, Andrew Sharp and The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver examine trade ideas for Smith Jr. and his lack of success in Dallas.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Sharp: Should Dallas trade Dennis Smith Jr.? What do you think Ben?
Golliver: Can we trade him to China? Or do we have to pick another NBA team? Laughs.
Sharp: Oh man! This is a really tough situation for me because you know I am not a Rick Carlisle guy, never haven been and I really would love to crush them for not giving Dennis Smith Jr. enough time and for basically wasting a top 10 pick. I think some of that is probably fair because Carlisle just can't make it work with guys. It’s not just Smith Jr., it goes back to Rondo and Nerlens Noel. It’s really hard to completely crush them for this. I think people have been criticizing this and saying the Mavs are going to get screwed in this trade and it’s just a bad look for the organization. I am just not a big fan of Smith Jr. and where he is going.
Golliver: Last time I talked about Dennis Smith Jr. it got transcribed and it went viral because I was so mean, so I am not going to try to repeat that. I am just going to say in Dallas’ defense, if you look at that class behind him, it’s not like he is the only mistake. We are only going to focus on him because he is a top 10 pick right? But Malik Monk and Luke Kennard…
Sharp: We don’t talk enough about Stan Van Gundy taking Luke Kennard 12th.That was a really deep draft and Van Gundy made that pick and everyone was like ‘What the hell is he doing?’ The only reason why that pick didn’t get much heat is because no one really cares about the Pistons. On the night of the draft, this is not hindsight, but Donovan Mitchell would have made 10x more sense for the Detroit Pistons than Kennard did.
Golliver: There were guys that was behind Smith Jr. You got Mitchell, Bam, John Collins in Atlanta who has had a really nice season, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. It wasn’t just Dallas saying like, ‘Oh Dennis Smith Jr. we are randomly just high on him’. He was pretty much a consensus top 12 pick right?
Sharp: Yeah, he was top five to top 10. People really liked him and I think what Dallas was doing, which actually made sense at the time, was saying like ‘We don’t know if we are going to continue to be in the top 10 and while we are here, we rather take a big swing on a guy that could be a legit superstar. For about one week at NBA Summer League during his rookie year, Dennis Smith was like the talk of summer league. People were convincing themselves that he was a future All-Star and everything was great. Everyone kind of sobered up midway through last year. This guy is not very efficient; he’s too small to ever be good on defense and kind of looks disinterested in playing defense whatsoever.
Golliver: The comparison I made for him last time was to Emmanuel Mudiay and the advantage Dallas has if they think about trading him now, that means they gave up quicker than Denver did on Mudiay, so you should get a bit more on the return package. I just think the book is out on him. He’s a very inefficient shooter, poor decision maker and it’s not a Carlisle thing, he just makes bad decisions. Can he improve two or three years down the line? It’s possible. Is he ever going to be a lead point guard for a good team?
Sharp: It’s possible.
Golliver: I don’t see it. He is just somebody else’s problem to me. If I am Orlando or if I am Phoenix and I got nothing going on at the point guard position, I would be like okay let’s roll the dice. If I am a team with a capable point guard, I would pass.