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Mavericks reportedly working to trade Dennis Smith Jr.; Suns, Magic interested

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Dennis Smith Jr. just does not fit next to Luka Doncic.

Dallas’ most used and regular starting lineup most of the season — Smith, Doncic, Wes Matthews, Harrison Barnes, and DeAndre Jordan — struggle to get buckets, scoring less than a point per possession. However, sub rookie Jalen Brunson in for Smith and the offense improves by 16 points per 100 possessions.

Smith showed flashes as a rookie last season with the ball in his hands, and he’s still on his rookie contract, which means he has trade value. The Mavericks are exploring that, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The Dallas Mavericks are escalating talks to trade guard Dennis Smith Jr., pushing to end a partnership that has run its course for both the franchise and former first-round pick, league sources tell ESPN.

Two teams in pursuit of a point guard — Phoenix and Orlando — have been active in talks with the Mavericks, league sources said.

Dallas has also searched for deals that would include veteran Wes Matthews, who is making $18.6 million in the final year of his contract, league sources said.

Don’t be so sure Phoenix is a potential destination, according to the well-connected John Gambadoro.

How good a full-time point guard Smith would make is up for debate. He is unquestionably a fantastic athlete (which is why he dominated Summer League fresh out of college in 2017), he has a tremendous first step, can get to the rim and has finished well. However, his decision making had a long way to go — as it does with a lot of young players, but Smith frustrated coach Rick Carlisle — and his outside shot was bad enough that teams played off him and dared him to shoot.

That shot improved this season — 12.6 points a game shooting 37.5 percent from three — but Smith struggled to find a comfort level working off the ball.

Orlando and Phoenix aren’t going to surrender equal value here — Dallas isn’t getting a No. 9 pick back, which is where Smith was drafted — but both are desperate for a point guard (meaning maybe they overpay), and they can provide salary relief plus an asset or two.

Expect this trade to get done in the next few weeks, before the Feb. 7 deadline.

Dallas’ J.J. Barea has season-ending Achilles tear

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — A person with direct knowledge of the injury says Dallas guard J.J. Barea has a torn right Achilles tendon, a season-ending setback for a key Mavericks’ reserve.

Other reports have confirmed this news.

Barea was injured in the second half of the Mavericks’ 119-115 win at Minnesota on Friday night.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the team hadn’t announced an update on Barea’s condition.

The 34-year-old Barea was averaging 10.9 points and a team-high 5.6 assists per game as a key part of the second unit for Dallas. The injury is likely to mean a significant increase in playing time for rookie Jalen Brunson, a two-time NCAA champion at Villanova and a second-round draft pick.

Barea is in his second stint with the Mavericks after being a catalyst for Dallas’ rally from a 2-1 deficit in the 2011 NBA Finals against Miami. The Mavericks won the franchise’s only title in six games.

Report: Mavericks re-signing Yogi Ferrell for less than qualifying-offer salary with second year unguaranteed

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The Mavericks expected Yogi Ferrell to accept his qualifying offer.

Turns out, they’ll keep him on an even more team-friendly deal than the one he could have unilaterally signed.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This is an awful deal for Ferrell.

As reported, he’ll earn between $2,548,077 and $2,760,417 next season. That range is less than his qualifying offer – which would have paid him a fully guaranteed $2,919,204 next season.

That reduction is acceptable if Ferrell got something in exchange – but he gave Dallas the concession by adding an unguaranteed second year. If he plays well, the Mavericks will keep him at a cheap salary. If he doesn’t, they’ll waive him for no cost. They have all the control.

The promise of the backup shooting guard job is probably just lip service. Teams don’t stick by that if the player struggles. If he produces, he would have gotten the job anyway.

Dallas has plenty of point guard types – Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, J.J Barea, Jalen Brunson and Ferrell. Rick Carlisle uses two of them simultaneously often enough that Ferrell should land in the rotation. But it’s far from a lock.

With this deal, Ferrell is taking all the risk and the Mavericks are getting all the upside.

Atlanta’s Trae Young gets shot going in summer league win

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — It’s been a bumpy ride for Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, but on Tuesday he got his shot going.

The No. 5 overall pick out of Oklahoma scored 24 points and made 7 of 13 3-pointers to help the Hawks defeat the Chicago Bulls 101-93 on Tuesday in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Young looked like the player who led the nation in scoring and assists as a college freshman.

“I just try to play my game,” he said. “I try to make the right plays, and if I see an opening, I’m going to knock it down or find my teammates. I’m just trying to get more into rhythm each and every game. I’m just trying to get better and progress and get better. That’s my main thing. I think I’m headed in the right direction.”

Young made just 12 of 52 shots in three summer league games in Utah, and before Tuesday, he had shot just 29 percent in two games Las Vegas. After showing signs of figuring things out with a 21-point, 11-assist performance against New York this past Saturday, he suffered a minor right quadriceps injury on Sunday against Portland. He seemed fine on Tuesday, playing a team-high 33 minutes.

It’s still just July and the sample size is small, but Young’s early struggles reflect the concerns about him being too frail, short and undisciplined to succeed in the NBA. Even in his breakout game against Chicago, he missed all six of his shots inside the 3-point line.

Young isn’t the only high-profile rookie point guard who has encountered rough times in Las Vegas, though. Second-round pick Jalen Brunson, The Associated Press National Player of the Year for Villanova, is averaging just seven points and shooting 19 percent from the field in three games for the Dallas Mavericks.

Meanwhile, Cleveland’s Collin Sexton has been on point. The eighth overall pick out of Alabama is averaging 16.7 points per game and shooting 43 percent from the field in Las Vegas.