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Escalation Protocol: Reactions to Dennis Smith’s position on the trading block

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We’re concerned, to say the least

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It was a nice Monday evening. With no Maverick games on the horizon until Wednesday, most of us thought we could have a night away from basketball. WRONG.

Per reports from ESPN, the Mavericks are trying to trade Dennis Smith. This caused all sorts of reactions from our staff and we’ve pooled them together here.

Sam: My initial reaction, as a fan, is that I’m a little bit sad. Smith was the first blue-chip prospect the Mavericks had drafted in my lifetime, and represented a new philosophy to build through the draft. He was going to be the first home grown cornerstone. Now that appears to be all going away.

From a basketball perspective, I think this is entirely too early. Smith is 21, was one-and-done at NC State, and was thrust into a lead role as a rookie on a very bad Mavericks team. The learning curve for point guards is STEEP, so I think Smith still has gobs of potential that the Mavericks are selling on.

Kirk: This is hard for me, because in absence of more information, my head tells me that this all makes sense. If Dennis Smith thinks he’s the option 1B to Luka’s 1A, then that difference alone is enough to want to move him. Smith’s on the smaller end, isn’t great in offensive sets, can’t finish lay ups and can’t draw fouls. But he’s still a cost controlled contract and YOUNG. They just haven’t played enough together. If this is a coaching issue, then at some point the Mavericks need to be honest that the problem might be the head coach more than the players involved, because we’ve seen Carlisle chase one too many talented players out of town for reasons which are broadly understandable, but maddening in aggregate.

Whatever happens, it’s important that both we and the Mavericks take a step back and acknowledge that the likelihood that the team makes the playoff this year is small. There’s no need to rush all this! Teams are build one step at a time.

Jordan: It’s hard to give a fully reasonable reaction, without knowing who or what is on the table in return. But reactions are often unreasonable. I’m disappointed.

I understand the chemistry concerns about Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. coexisting long term on the court together. But dear god what’s the rush? It seems the Mavericks feel some need to speed up their rebuild timeline because of the play of Doncic this season. Urgency is natural, but the roster isn’t one piece away. It’s many. Many many. So why not let this play out some more?

Finally, in order to have a stable long term roster, a team needs a handful of affordable team controlled assets. DSJ represented a great one. His ceiling isn’t superstar, or maybe even second in command. But the improvements he’s made this season defensively and as a three point shooter makes me think there are aspects of this duo being left unmined. If there are other off the court issues that’s one thing, otherwise I wish the Mavericks would practice some patience and restraint.

Josh: The Mavericks spent two years in the draft lottery and all of a sudden they think they have everything figured out. Dennis Smith Jr. is one of the two young players the Mavs have hopes of building around and Dallas has seemingly decided 97 games into Dennis’ career that he’s not worth the trouble of developing. Reminder: this is the same team that is a season removed from winning 24 games and doesn’t have a first-round pick this summer.

Dennis is a 21-year-old point guard that played one season in college and missed a high school season with a knee injury. Compared to other second-year players, he’s relatively raw, all things considered. Luka’s been a professional since he was 15. Maxi is a 27 and played in Europe. Dorian Finney-Smith is a third-year player who played four years in college. To not give Dennis that same time or respect is baffling for an organization that desperately needs stability and direction. Dennis and Luka don’t work right now, for sure, but who is to say it won’t work when Dennis is 23 and Luka is 21?

If the Mavericks swap Dennis for a similarly aged talent, then it’ll be easier to swallow at least. But bailing on a kid with this much talent after a season and a half seems incredibly short-sighted and makes me worried the Mavericks haven’t learned a thing from their years toiling around in mediocrity since the 2011 championship.

John: I’d be sad to see Dennis go. I think he has made major strides as a shooter and defender, and I see him attacking at least a little. Eventually he will learn what to do in the paint but not at the rim.

But it all comes down to what we would trade him for!

Doyle: I can’t wait for Troy Daniels to be a Maverick!