(Yahoo Sports) – Dallas point guard Dennis Smith Jr. will rejoin the Mavericks for Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, coach Rick Carlisle said Sunday. Carlisle said he had a conversation with Smith — who reportedly is seeking to be traded — and that he requested that the players welcome the 21-year-old back with open arms.
“I am excited to announce Dennis Smith Jr. will rejoin the team on Tuesday,” Carlisle said in a statement on Sunday. “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.”
Smith will miss his sixth straight game on Monday due to the situation. The first three were attributed to back soreness and the fourth was due to Smith’s agent calling in sick for him. On Friday, Carlisle announced that Smith would miss the two-game road trip to Indiana on Saturday and Milwaukee on Monday.
Multiple reports claim Smith is upset that his role is different this season with rookie star Luka Doncic evolving as the leader of the offense. There have also been reports of heavy friction between Carlisle and Smith, while The Dallas Morning News reported that Smith craves a fresh start with a new team.
Carlisle hinted on his weekly radio show that it wasn’t all on Smith per the dispute with the Mavericks.“This is just my feeling, is that he’s being told to stay away for whatever reason,” Carlisle said on Dallas station FM 103.3. “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.”
What a weird story this has been over the last few weeks. It’s not all that often you hear rumors about a team being willing to part with a young promising lottery pick after just 1 season, but those rumors hit the internet streets last week that the Mavs were open to hearing offers for the former 9th overall pick. Now they also said they were going to have to be blown away in order to part with Dennis Smith Jr, and that’s probably why we are where we are today. It was always a long shot that anyone was going to pay the Mavs asking price for a guy with an inconsistent jump shot and career 40/32% splits who if we’re being honest had taken a little step back from his rookie season.
When the season started I think the idea of a Luka/DSJ backcourt was exciting, but the more Luka plays and the more dominant he seems to be, it suddenly became a logjam. His usage dropped drastically from 28% to 22%, he had some injuries here and there, so when he started to sit out due to his wrist/back injury it wasn’t all that surprising. But then he stayed out, the rumors started, and all of the sudden the Mavs had a situation on their hands. Rick Carlisle is a known hardass who doesn’t give a shit whether you’re happy or not. This is a coach that doesn’t put up with bullshit, so it was interesting to see how he responded to a guy who apparently was making the conscious decision to sit out. I think that final quote is pretty interesting. He feels that maybe this wasn’t a DSJ decision but his inner circle telling him to sit out. Maybe they were filling his brain with all this nonsense about how he was hurting his marketability being on this team since Luka is getting all the shine, and you combine that with his decreased role it was time for him to find a new team. Sort of like how we had to hear about Kawhi’s inner circle and DRose’s inner circle impacting their career.
As of now, it’s going to be really hard for DAL to make the playoffs, so it almost makes you wonder once they get to the summer and teams maybe are a little more flexible with their offers if we still see DSJ on this team. Maybe you’re a team that had bigger aspirations and you strike out on big name FAs, but you have assets to cash in and bring in a young player with a high ceiling. I feel like once you beef with Carlisle you lose that battle, this is a guy who is the 3rd longest tenured coach in the NBA, having been the coach in DAL sicnesince 2008. It’s clear that Cuban trusts him and gives him the keys to the franchise.
What if the Mavs get to the lottery and have a chance to draft a guard that fits better next to Luka? Shouldn’t they then move DSJ to fill out their roster? A smart team might entertain that idea. In the meantime though it looks like these two have buried the hatchet, kissed and made up. In what is mostly a lost season this year, and then DeAndre Jordan about to be a FA, it’s not exactly smooth sailing from here, but it’s for sure a good sign that your starting PG and coach have squashed their beef.
Naturally this means we’re going to get a Woj bomb at the deadline while we’re all sleeping, but for now Mavs fans have to be relieved.