Knicks trade rumors: ‘Several teams’ interested in Dennis Smith Jr.

Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly a potential suitor for the New York Knicks’ Dennis Smith Jr.

It’s the holiday season, which has become a precursor for rumors around New York Knicks point guards. In 2018, it was Frank Ntilikina‘s trade status. As of Wednesday, it’s the other third-year guard on the roster.

Per SNY’s Ian Begley, “several teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves” are interested in Dennis Smith Jr., who arrived from the Dallas Mavericks in January via the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

As with Ntilikina last year, Smith Jr.’s value is potentially at an all-time low due to his on-court play in 2019-20, with 5.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists on just 33 percent shooting and 31.4 percent on 3-pointers. He has started just one of 18 games played.

This report arose after Smith Jr. sat out two consecutive games due to coach’s decision, falling behind Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton on the depth chart. However, interim coach Mike Miller returned the North Carolina State product to the court in Tuesday’s win over Atlanta, resulting in eight points, five rebounds and five assists in just 12 minutes.

As a potential trade partner, the Timberwolves already have Jeff Teague available. As New York’s roster stands, it doesn’t make sense to send out a point guard and take back another, but if Teague is attached to draft compensation as part of a bigger transaction, perhaps something can make sense.

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Minnesota also takes a flier on Smith Jr., to see if he can regain the value once established in college. His two-plus years in the NBA have not been remarkable, so any team, not just the ‘Wolves, may see a reclamation project for their point guard spot. Plus, at $5.68 million for 2020-21, this is a relatively inexpensive contract for someone’s payroll.

For other potential suitors, the Washington Wizards are a viable option. John Wall remains out for injury rehab and there’s no telling how he will play upon return. Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith are the other point guards in place, with neither in place as a long-term solution. Acquiring the Knicks’ Smith Jr. can add insurance for the rest of this season and provide a contracted backup to Wall in 2020-21.

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This is just another potential trade candidate for the New York Knicks as “trade season” unofficially starts. It could be another year of in-season shakeups, given the slow start to the season, and Smith Jr. joins the many names that can go by February’s deadline.