Report: Mavericks exploring trading Dennis Smith Jr.

AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez

Just a few months ago, Dennis Smith Jr. looked like a potential franchise player for the Mavericks.

The No. 9 pick in the 2017 draft seemed like a steal. LeBron James raved about him. Smith made the All-Rookie second team.

Then, Dallas added Luka Doncic, and Smith has taken a backseat. It hasn’t always been smooth between Smith (a point guard) and Doncic (a point forward). The Mavericks are scoring just 99.5 points per 100 possessions and getting outscored by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Which leads to…

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times:

Some scouts and general managers believe Dallas is quietly gauging interest in last year’s first-round pick, guard Dennis Smith Jr.

Doncic is better than Smith. Doncic is younger than Smith. Doncic has a more favorable contract than Smith.

The Mavericks should absolutely build around Doncic. If that means trading Smith, so be it.

But I wouldn’t give up on the 21-year-old Smith. Point guards tend to take longer to develop, and he possesses plenty of talent. He might even grow into a helpful fit with Doncic.

That said, Smith’s value remains high because he’s in just the second season of his rookie-scale contract and he holds upside. This could be the right time to trade him.

It’s definitely a good time to explore it, at least.