The burden Dennis Smith Jr. bore as centerpiece of the Kristaps Porzingis trade no longer exists after the 23-year-old was shipped out of town in the Derrick Rose trade. And while DSJ failed to take off in New York, the honorable thing to do is to wish him luck in Detroit.
There’s a freedom in getting rid of DSJ. Fair or not, for as long as he was on the Knicks, he was going to be viewed as the primary consideration for KP, at least until we fans finally get our hands on the Mavs’ 2021 first-round pick. That pick might not be so horrible since the Mavericks have struggled to start the season, in part because Porzingis is still trying to regain his All-Star form.
The trade also cleared a bunch of cap space, and those who are committed to the glass being half full will tell you that everyone from Julius Randle to Immanuel Quickley can technically be considered part of the deal.
This is a fucking amazing graphic right here. Full Porzingis trade breakdown pic.twitter.com/gJDeCLezOn— IQ Fan Club | Knicks 11-13 (@SoQuickley) February 3, 2021
A little convoluted, but sure. Whatever helps us sleep at night, right?
In the past, we’ve penned farewell pieces for below average Knicks like Ron Baker the Bucket Maker and Lance Thomas, Longest Tenured Knick for a time, but this goodbye to DSJ is much more of a relief. His tenure was cursed from the start. He only ever ended up on the Knicks because the previous front office was so bad at its job that the relationship with KP deteriorated faster than a hydrogen isotope (hydrogen has the shortest half-life of any naturally occurring radioactive nuclides, duh).
When all is said and done, the Porzingis trade might not look as bad as it once did, but only because the Knicks fired Steve Mills and hired Leon Rose, who hired Tom Thibodeau and drafted Quickley. And there we go again, talking about everything except DSJ.
Smith Jr. was actually pretty solid for much of the first half season he played with the Knicks, but he also dealt with injury woes, including a sprained wrist and bad back. He disappointed in the dunk contest, but appeared capable of competing with Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina for the job of starting point guard in 2019-20 after averaging 15 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in 21 games with New York in 2018-19.
His second season began with tragedy, however, as DSJ lost his stepmother, with whom he was very close. That, plus lingering injury issues, resulted in a nightmare campaign for Smith Jr. He only played in 34 games last year, posting 5.5 points, 3 assists and 2 boards and shooting worse percentages across the board than the prior season.
As a matter of fact, while he was in New York, DSJ was among the worst guards in the NBA at shooting from deep. His 29.6% three ball ranked 207th out of 258 guards who played in at least 30 games in 2019-20, per NBA.com/stats, and his ranking got even worse when looking at straight up field goal percentage (at 34.1% from the field overall, he was fifth worst among guards that played at least 30 games that year). Meanwhile, it’s not like he did much of anything to make up for that errant jumper.
This season, DSJ once again failed to impress. Thibs gave him a shot during the preseason, but Smith Jr. wound up glued to the bench before asking to be sent to the G League just so he could get some minutes. The Knicks granted that request, but then quickly traded him to Detroit for Derrick Rose. Now he’s gone, off to the Motor City to try and take advantage of a new lease on life.
Thank you to all the fans for the love and support. I’m excited to start a new chapter in Detroit and get to work with this organization, my coaches, and teammates. Ready for the opportunity!! @detroitpistons pic.twitter.com/4P3AgbzlJE— Dennis Smith Jr. (@Dennis1SmithJr) February 8, 2021
Good luck trying to revitalize your career, Dennis. We all know you’re probably going to drop 30, 12 and 8 on the Knicks whenever you finally get the chance to play against New York.