With Dennis Smith Jr’s time in Dallas essentially ending by his own hand, let’s look at trades for each of the teams rumored to be in the mix for the disgruntled point guard.
Dennis Smith Jr. has all but demanded a trade from the Dallas Mavericks by sitting out, calling out sick to practice and games, liking trade pieces on social media, and having his camp say they are “open” to trades – he is essentially demanding without saying it directly. The breadcrumbs that have led to this point are well chronicled by our own R.C. Takes in his article on the matter.
There have been teams linked to Dallas by Woj bombs such as Phoenix & Orlando. There has also been heavy speculation that Detroit has interest in his services. And with all Mavs fans speculating on what we should get from each team, sports media – both national and local – are coming up with their own trades they want to see happen. Let’s take a look at actual successful trades, via ESPN’s Trade Machine, for each of the teams linked and whether it actually works for one side, both, or neither, as well as the why’s to each.
Dennis to Phoenix
The Mavs Nation’s writers seem to like this one a lot. I personally like the youth-for-youth nature of it. Both players have upside and need to shine to grow. Dennis feels stifled here and could be the kind of slashing point guard Phoenix needs next to Devin Booker to finally have their backcourt of the future. Dallas would get wing depth with a young piece in Bridges that has tremendous upside next to Luka for the next four years, especially as Wes comes off the books this summer. Pairing him, Barnes, and Maxi or Dorian with Luka is a solid lineup with a lot of size and defense.
With both players having so much upside for the future, the trade machine’s prediction of a one game swing this year doesn’t matter. The problem with this trade is the value: Phoenix knows that Dennis wants out, so why would they part with a premium future piece when they might be able to get more of a bargain? Only way Phoenix offers this is if they truly see Dennis as the answer at point guard more than anyone else.
Dennis to Orlando
This one feels very good for the future, if not for this year. Orlando gets a point guard who can immediately step in and run the show and provide stellar highlight material alongside Aaron Gordon. And the Mavs get a potential game changer at center who can’t find minutes behind potential All Star – Vucevic and veteran Timofey Mozgof. It’s true: Bamba is still very very raw, but the Mavs were willing to keep developing Dennis, who isn’t polished yet either, so that seems to offset. The Mavs would be very thin at PG for the rest of this year with JJ out and Dennis traded, but for the future, Bamba could be the long term answer at center if they don’t want to pay DeAndre long term.
This trade feels very plausible and both sides would come out about equal, but it boils down to how Orlando feels about Bamba’s upside down the road, or if they will be moving on from Vucevic after this season.
Dennis to Detroit
This one takes a little background info to explain. Detroit is currently in 9th place in the east, on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The team is aging, with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond eating roughly half of their cap space while the team ages and doesn’t make the playoffs. They may feel they need to trade in on the most valuable asset to make room for a younger free agent that might help them over the hump by taking on expiring money.
Dallas gets a two time All-Star who rim rolls better than DeAndre and is the NBA leader in rebounds for the next three years and Detroit gets a point guard who makes them younger and can immediately step in as a facilitator. They also get DeAndre Jordan as a stopgap at center for the rest of the year, before they go pursue who they really want. This one is a big swing and a big ‘if’ on Detroit’s part, but it seems that much of Detroit sports writers think Dennis would fit in great up there.
Dennis to New York (Knicks)
This trade comes to you courtesy of Bill Simmons who has brought it up on his podcast and just about any other outlet who will give him airtime (which is everyone). Practically all season, Simmons has said that the Mavs need to go after Tim Hardaway Jr. to pair with Luka Doncic. Hardaway is far from a perfect player, but he is a high volume shooting guard who might thrive with a better distributor like Luka. He is not a a plus defender, but could possibly be trained up to do so on a team who isn’t stuck in the NBA basement every year.
Dennis goes to the Knicks and gets to take the spot of the player drafted directly before him, Frank Ntilikina, in a move that would have to feel good. Wes Matthews goes with Dennis to make the money work as well as Luke Kornet coming to Dallas to shoot spot up 3s. New York gets to clear some money to either a) pay Kristaps or b) go chase Kevin Durant this offseason. While not my personal ideal, this could work…
Dennis to Memphis
This one comes courtesy of the Locked On Mavericks podcast where Nick Angstadt and Isaac Harris posit that Memphis’ year might be about shot and they might see it as the right time to blow it all up and rebuild around Jaren Jackson Jr. If this is Memphis’ idea, they need to clear old money and get younger simultaneously. So they would send both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to Dallas for Dennis Smith Jr. and the expiring contracts of Wes Matthews and DeAndre Jordan. This benefits Memphis as they are headed back to the lottery and have several potential picks, so an extra $54 million would allow them to expedite the rebuild in one offseason.
Dallas should be interested because the addition of these two players would probably help achieve the goal stated at the start of the season of making the playoffs. This would essentially be a “win now” move by the front office, but would saddle the team with heavy contracts that would eat nearly all available summer cap space. It would age the team and the fit is also questionable with Gasol not being a typical center. However, Mike Conley would be a Harden/CP3-esque fit next to Luka which is very enticing. This one is a stretch to me, but it is fun to think about Mike Conley in Mavs blue.
More than likely, none of these end up being the trade that gets made because it seems like its always the team no one saw coming that makes the deal. However, it puts in perspective what seem like the Mavs two current end options: trade for equally raw potential upside or break the bank and take on some serious money. We’ll see what Donnie and the Mavs brain trust can get done, and done soon, as the Mavs seem to be losing leverage the longer this drags out.
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