In 2017, Dennis Smith Jr. was the No. 9 overall pick of the Mavericks. He went on to have a strong rookie season, averaging 15.2 points and 5.2 assists a game and making the All-Rookie team. However, since then, in stops in New York and Detroit, he has struggled to find that same groove — or any groove — so much so that the Pistons did not extend a qualifying offer at the end of his rookie contract, and Smith became an unrestricted free agent.
Now he will take his chances with the Trail Blazers and try to earn a roster spot, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Free agent guard Dennis Smith Jr., has signed a deal to attend training camp with the Portland Trail Blazers, sources tell ESPN. Smith played 23 games between Detroit and New York last season.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 2, 2021
Smith will get a chance to compete for a roster spot.
Blazers will add one more player, likely inviting vets into training camp on non-guaranteed contracts to compete for final spot. By signing Nance, front court is no longer glaring need, so final spot will go to best player, regardless of position. https://t.co/gwwWwZbMFc
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) August 27, 2021
Smith has elite athleticism, the challenge has been shooting efficiency — he is a career 40% shooter overall and 31.6% from 3. The 6’2″ guard is not bringing other elite skills to the table outside his athleticism; if he can’t knock down shots, his value is limited.
But Smith is going to get his shot in Portland this fall.