Dennis Smith Jr. Reportedly Agrees to Training Camp Contract with Trail Blazers

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2021

Detroit Pistons guard Dennis Smith Jr. brings the ball up court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Free-agent point guard Dennis Smith Jr. reportedly signed a contract to attend training camp with the Portland Trail Blazers, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday.

It's the second team change for Smith since February. He was previously traded to the Detroit Pistons from the New York Knicks, where he'd spent parts of three seasons after starting his career with the Dallas Mavericks. His free-agent rights were renounced by the Pistons in early August.

He's struggled to reach expectations since the Mavs selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of NC State. The Mavs dealt him to the Knicks in January 2019 as part of the blockbuster trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis.

His move to New York didn't spark a breakout, though. He averaged just 5.5 points, 2.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds in limited minutes across 34 appearances in 2019-20.

The 23-year-old guard averaged just 18.3 minutes in 23 games while splitting the 2020-21 season between the Pistons and Knicks.

Last February, Smith explained he maintained confidence in himself despite being reduced to a small role on one of the NBA's worst teams in New York.

"I'm still confident in my game," he told reporters. "It's all about being present. And whenever I'm out there, I got to take advantage of the opportunity and make the most of it."

Meanwhile, Smith's dip in offensive production and continued issues on the defensive end have clouded his long-term outlook after a promising start to his career in Dallas. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 69 games as a rookie for the Mavs in 2017-18.

The North Carolina native still possesses some untapped potential, but his future may be more as an offensive spark plug off the bench rather than a true franchise point guard.

Smith will hope his latest move to Portland yields better results than his recent stints in New York and Detroit. It's another chance to reboot his career after his trajectory slowed.

He should slot in as the backup point guard behind Damian Lillard if he makes the Blazers' final roster.