Dennis Smith Jr. is returning to the Mavericks.
*extremely deep sigh of relief*
After a week of reports, trade rumors, missed practices and missed games, Smith will return to the Mavericks on Tuesday to play against the Clippers, per multiple reports and Mavericks PR, which emailed out a statement from Smith on Sunday.
“I am thrilled to rejoin my teammates on Tuesday,” Smith’s statement reads. “I am feeling better and had a great workout today. It has been difficult to be away, but I look forward to getting back on the court and helping my team win.”
This ends the weird standoff between Smith and the Mavs, which really heated up last week when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported there were “escalating discussions to find a trade” involving Smith. Since that report, Smith has been away from the team as his camp told The Dallas Morning News that while Smith never requested a trade, they’d be open to one.
From there it was a lot of anonymous sourcing back and forth between the two parties. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told the media before a practice last week that he wanted Smith back on the team. He reiterated on those points again when he did an interview as part of his weekly radio show on ESPN Radio in Dallas.
”I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I know one thing: This kid is a team guy, and he loves being with his teammates, and he really respects his teammates,” Carlisle said Friday on 103.3 FM ESPN in Dallas. “This is just my feeling, is that he’s being told to stay away for whatever reason. I just don’t want people out there to think he is snubbing the Mavs or anything like that. This is just my opinion, I believe there’s business stuff going on, and he’s being told to stay away. Listen, if that’s what they feel is in his best interests, he should trust his advisers. But it’s unlike him not to want to be with his teammates.
”I do feel strongly that people should not look at Dennis in this situation now and judge him harshly, that he’s doing something against his teammates or the Mavs or anything like that. I just think this is a business-type situation, and this is what he’s being advised to do.”
Smith missed games against the Spurs and Pacers and will miss the game Monday against the Bucks. Carlisle apparently told the team at Sunday’s practice that Smith would be coming back, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. After the report surfaced, Carlisle texted a statement out to various reporters like MacMahon and The Athletic’s
Tom Tim Cato.
“I am excited to announce Dennis Smith Jr. will rejoin the team on Tuesday,” Carlisle said in his statement. “Dennis and I spoke at length today. He is feeling better and plans to resume workouts in preparation for his return. There will be no further updates until Tuesday.”
We don’t know what that discussion involved, but according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Carlisle allegedly apologized to Smith, “expressing remorse over the situation.”
It’s be an exhausting situation from top to bottom, with the Mavericks initially in trade talks about Smith when reports surfaced the Mavericks might be shopping the second-year guard back in late December. Questions about Carlisle’s ability to handle young players, Smith’s extremely questionable decision to miss games and the Mavericks even attempting to trade a former ninth overall pick less than two seasons from being drafted raised all sorts of alarms about the Mavericks seriousness about the rebuild they’re undergoing.
Smith hasn’t played exceptionally well this season, but he’s made strides as a shooter and defender. If there’s any big takeaway from this, it’s that the Mavericks can’t afford to give up on a player with Smith’s talent so soon when you consider the path the Mavericks are on. Dallas doesn’t have a draft pick this summer and thanks to short-sighted team building and bad luck, they also don’t have a first round pick drafted this decade before 2017 on the roster. That means Smith and Doncic are it in terms of young, blue-chip talent for the Mavs for the foreseeable future.
Hopefully that means both parties are ready to make this work.