The New York Knicks just landed their best point guard since Mark Jackson in the early 1990s (yes, the situation has been that dire) by luring Jalen Brunson away from the Mavs. Meanwhile, one of the many floor generals who fell to the wayside while the club searched for a backcourt solution is looking to make a return to the Association.
As reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, ex-Knick Dennis Smith Jr was in Las Vegas on Monday, auditioning for NBA teams as he seeks to secure a spot in the league next season. That information came by way of the 24-year-old’s agent, Daniel Hazan.
Haynes further indicated that as many as 10 teams would be in attendance for Smith’s workout.
It appears as though one of those teams was the franchise that drafted Smith ninth overall coming out of NC State back in 2017. “Source tells DallasBasketball.com that the Mavs are expected to be in attendance for Dennis Smith Jr.’s private workout in Vegas,” tweeted Dalton Trigg on Sunday.
One has to wonder, though, whether the Knicks were there to see Smith as well.
The Knicks’ Evolving Backcourt
As it stands, there doesn’t seem to be a great need for Smith in the Knicks backcourt. In addition to acquiring Brunson — who averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds for Dallas last season — New York already has a hot prospect in Deuce McBride and a wily vet in Derrick Rose on its roster. There’s also rising combo guard Immanuel Quickley to consider.
Adding a reclamation project like Smith to the mix may only serve to muddy the waters.
Still, Smith is still relatively young, and he was a top 10 pick for a reason. Sure, his on-court production has steadily declined since he averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game as a rookie with the Mavs, but his athleticism and defensive potential remain intriguing attributes.
There’s also this: when the Knicks famously sent a cadre of execs to Dallas — where they were joined by star big man Julius Randle — to watch Brunson play during the first round of the playoffs, Smith was seen rubbing elbows with the group as well.
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Still Searching for His Spot
Smith, who was acquired from the Mavs as part of the Kristaps Porzingis deal in 2019, spent parts of three seasons with the Knicks. However, after logging a 15-5-3 line to close out the 2018-19 campaign, he failed to make a significant impact over the next two years before getting shipped off to Detroit for Rose.
After a 20-game stint with the Pistons, Smith eventually caught on with the Portland Trail Blazers ahead of last season. He went on to make 37 appearance for the club, averaging 5.6 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds with shooting splits of 42-22-66.
The team ultimately opted to waive him in February, and he’s been looking for a new gig ever since.