With limited options remaining for the Dallas Mavericks in free agency, what can the team do to add to the secondary playmaking department that was supposed to be this offseason’s primary goal?
How about a potentially inexpensive reunion with former Mavericks starter Dennis Smith Jr.?
The 6-2 guard with the spectacular athleticism recently had his rights renounced by the Detroit Pistons, making him an unrestricted free agent, and Smith Jr. tells DallasBasketball.com that he’s ‘definitely interested’ in making a Mavs comeback.
The fireworks of the first week of NBA Free Agency have come and gone, and the Mavs, despite making some good moves around the edges, have still not addressed one of their biggest needs heading into this offseason — adding another secondary playmaker who can create his own shot at times.
It’s not that the Mavs didn’t try, because it was very obvious that pursuing Kyle Lowry was the team’s main attempt to address that issue. After that, Dallas pivoted to Goran Dragic, who was sent to the Toronto Raptors in the sign-and-trade deal that landed Lowry with the Miami Heat. However, it seems as if the Mavs aren’t interested in trading for Dragic at this point, likely due to the Raptors’ asking price being too high for a 35-year-old point guard on an expiring $19 million deal. If Dragic does eventually get bought out, it will likely be Toronto doing it.
Dallas could’ve made a play for Spencer Dinwiddie, who needed up with the Washington Wizards via sign-and-trade, but according to Jake Fischer on our Mavs Step Back Podcast this week, Dinwiddie’s second preferred destination to Washington was supposedly New Orleans. So the Mavs likely never had a real chance there.
It’s hard to accomplish your top free agency goals if players don’t have you as their preferred destination.
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Although we don’t know the Mavs’ intentions for the rest of this his offseason, here’s what we do know:
1) The Mavs could have all 15 of their roster spots filled currently, but Sterling Brown’s signing hasn’t been made official yet. Even if all 15 spots are occupied at the moment, though, the Mavs can bring 20 players to training camp, and there’s also still one two-way contract open. We could see Smith Jr. being capable of beating out a guy like Trey Burke in camp.
2) Given Smith Jr.’s recent production in Detroit — he averaged 7.3 points, 3.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 19.6 minutes per game for the Pistons while showing much-improved defense — he could provide Dallas with some value if signed to the right deal.
3) Smith Jr. tells us today that he is ‘definitely interested’ in a return to the Mavs. And he has harbored that desire for some time now.
Smith Jr.’s departure from Dallas was a rocky one. Things could’ve been handled better on both sides, but we will argue that, hey, you live and you learn. Maybe the organization has learned some things. And Smith Jr.? He would love a chance to continue his NBA career with the franchise that drafted him.
Smith Jr. is still close with Mavs players, including Luka Doncic and especially Dorian Finney-Smith. And it probably doesn’t hurt that the Mavs have a new head coach this time around, either. Say what you will about Jason Kidd’s previous head coaching stops, but from a player development standpoint, we’d have to imagine that Kidd would help Smith Jr. - and we know how Rick Carlisle and Smith did not quite mesh.
The Mavs may have other plans for the rest of this offseason, but in an NBA landscape where not many players seem to have Dallas as a preferred destination, they should at least know now that at least one available player out there does. Maybe they’ll end up taking advantage of that when the dust completely settles.