Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has taken the first step in trying to bring second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr. back into the fold.
On Friday, Carlisle publicly declared that Smith is welcome to rejoin the Mavs whenever he is ready:
"Dennis Smith is not here, but I want to let everybody know that I reached out to him and his agent last night to let them know that when he's feeling better, he's welcome to rejoin the team at any time. We would love to have him back. In his year and a half here, he has started every game that he has been available to play, and during that period of time, he has experienced significant growth on both sides of the ball. I'm very proud of the progress that he's made. That's where we are. I don't expect him to be on this trip, but again, I just think that he's a part of this team and we'd love to have him back."
Carlisle added more on the situation Friday evening, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon:
These comments came on the same day MacMahon reported Smith did not report to the team facility for practice Friday. That move was not unexpected, per MacMahon, and Dallas plans to remain patient.
The ninth overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Smith has endured a rough sophomore campaign. He has appeared in just 28 of his team's 44 games, missing time with both wrist and back injuries. Smith has missed the Mavericks' last four games, and he will continue to be listed as questionable with an "illness," per MacMahon.
When he has taken the court, Smith has been trying to fit in alongside rookie Luka Doncic. Smith is averaging 12.6 points on 44.3 percent shooting, including 37.5 percent from three-point range, and 3.9 assists per game.
Per ESPN's Tim Bontemps, a scout noticed Smith has not always listened to Carlisle's play calls, leading to a frustrated coach.
MacMahon and colleague Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that Dallas was "escalating talks" in efforts to trade Smith. MacMahon noted Thursday that the Mavericks will not trade the second-year guard without receiving "good value" in return.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Smith has met with team officials in recent days and had "positive communication." Charania said the former lottery pick has not formally requested a trade, but according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News, the 21-year-old would prefer a fresh start with a team that would allow him to be the primary ball-handler.
The Mavericks seem open to making things work with Smith, and Carlisle's willingness to extend an olive branch may be a good start.