Dallas Mavericks, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: The Dallas Mavericks wanting to trade Dennis Smith Jr. is surprising

Dennis Smith Jr. might not fit perfectly with the Dallas Mavericks, but Dallas looking to trade him now is still surprising.

There are a lot of surprises that pop up during an NBA season, especially on Adrian Wojnarowski’s Twitter timeline, but when Woj reported that the Dallas Mavericks had been shopping Dennis Smith Jr. it ranked as maybe the biggest surprise of the season thus far.

It’s not that Dallas wanting to move on from Smith Jr. doesn’t make sense in the big picture, because it does. His scoring has slowed noticeably since Luka Doncic took over the Mavericks’ offense, and even though he’s more efficient from the field and from 3-point territory Smith is not ideally suited for an off-ball role. Also, Woj reported Smith Jr. and Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle haven’t seen eye to eye.

All that said, it’s just a little shocking to see an NBA team ready to move on a 21-year-old point guard who has looked as tantalizing as Smith Jr. has at times. Even if the fit isn’t perfect, it’s not too difficult to imagine a backcourt of Smith Jr. and Doncic being damn good going forward. The Mavericks have apparently determined that damn good is not quite good enough.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for Mavs fans who spent all of last season rooting for Smith Jr., but jettisoning him now to optimize the roster around Doncic is a good call. There’s only one clear superstar on the Mavericks right now, and building around him immediately can’t be a bad decision — provided they can get reasonable value for Smith Jr.

Too many franchises are willing to basically carry on with business as usual with a young star on their roster, and then they kick into gear late by the time said star has already signed their second contract. Dallas is not doing that and making it very obvious that the plan is to build a championship contender around Luka Doncic.

Good for the Mavericks. Obviously, the return in any Dennis Smith Jr. needs to be seen before the move can be declared a success, but the unconventional, surprising path of trading a promising second-year player during a rebuild seems like it could be the best thing for Dallas in the long-term.

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