Dennis Smith Jr. to Return to Mavericks Amid Trade Rumors

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2019

Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Guard Dennis Smith Jr. is coming back to the Dallas Mavericks.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle issued a statement Sunday, saying he spoke with Smith "at length" and that the guard is "feeling better and plans to resume workouts in preparation for his return," per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Carlisle apologized to Smith Jr. in a phone call, adding the "Mavericks have made clear Smith has been positive presence for them."

Earlier, Charania reported Smith will play in Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. MacMahon added that Carlisle told the team during Sunday's practice that Smith will be back for Tuesday's game.

This comes after MacMahon reported Friday that Smith didn't report to the team's facility. A report from Adrian Wojnarowski and MacMahon revealed Tuesday the Mavericks were "escalating talks to trade" him.

Smith hasn't played since a Jan. 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Wojnarowski and MacMahon noted he was listed as being out in games because of a sore back and then illness.

It appeared as if he was well on his way to becoming a building block for the Mavericks when they selected him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 draft. The North Carolina State product averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game as a rookie.

However, his numbers have dipped to 12.6 points, 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game this season as he's shifted off the ball some, with rookie sensation Luka Doncic breaking onto the scene.

Wojnarowski and MacMahon cited sources who said Carlisle and Smith "have struggled to find a common ground," with the coach growing frustrated with some of his decision-making. Sean Deveney of Sporting News cited a source who said it "is a matter of when, not if" regarding a Smith trade.

Carlisle also appeared on 103.3 FM ESPN and suggested Smith was being told to stay away from the team:

While it appears as if Smith's days with the Mavericks are limited with a potential trade around the corner, he will be back with the team for Tuesday's game against the Clippers. Dallas is looking to climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture and is four games behind Los Angeles for the No. 8 seed.

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