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Knicks Trade Rumors: Dennis Smith Jr. Interests Timberwolves, Others on Market

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) dribbles the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)
Sarah Stier/Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly among the teams interested in trading for New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr.

According to SNY's Ian Begley, the T-Wolves are one of "several" teams keeping an eye on Smith, but it isn't clear what the Knicks' asking price is or what they could get in return for the 2017 first-round pick.

Smith has struggled to carve out a consistent role for the Knicks this season with just one start in 18 appearances and career-low averages of 5.6 points, 2.8 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 17.0 minutes per game.

New York acquired Smith from the Dallas Mavericks last season as part of the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas. Smith was productive in 21 games for the Knicks last season with averages of 14.7 points, 5.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds.

That was on par with his rookie season in Dallas in 2017-18, which saw him average 15.2 points, 5.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds.

Drafted ninth overall in 2017, Smith displayed explosiveness and offensive acumen in one college season at North Carolina State, but consistency has been a major issue for the 22-year-old.

He has also struggled with efficiency when given opportunities this season, shooting a career-worst 33.0 percent.

Since the firing of David Fizdale as head coach, interim head coach Mike Miller has made Smith a healthy scratch on a couple of occasions. That suggests the Knicks may be open to moving him.

Both Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton have seen more action than Smith at point guard, so there is little reason for the Knicks to keep Smith unless they only receive lowball offers.

Minnesota could be a good landing spot since the Timberwolves are a young, talented team led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. As well, rookie first-round shooting guard Jarrett Culver is progressing and figures to be an important piece in the years to come.

Starting point guard Jeff Teague can become a free agent at the end of the season, so the T-Wolves may need a replacement. Even if they re-sign the one-time All-Star, Smith would be a talented understudy to groom behind him.

If Smith ever does live up to his potential, a core of Towns, Wiggins, Culver and Smith could make some noise in the Western Conference.

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