The Charlotte Hornets have signed free agent guard Dennis Smith Jr. to a one-year deal. Per team policy, the terms of this contract were undisclosed. The fifth-year guard was selected ninth overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2017 NBA Draft.
During his rookie 2017-18 season, in 69 starts, Smith Jr. averaged a career-high 15.2 points per game. While shooting 39.5% from the field and 31.3% from 3-point range, the NC State product also averaged 3.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1 steal per game.
On December 29, 2017, in the Mavericks’ 128-120 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, the guard logged his first career triple-double. He amassed 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 21, 2022
At 20 years, 34 days old, Smith Jr. joined Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and LeBron James as the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. So, the guard has talent to succeed in the league.
He was then selected to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
However, on January 31, 2019, the Mavericks traded DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, a 2021 first-round draft pick, a 2023 first-round draft pick, and Smith Jr. to the New York Knicks for Trey Burke, Courtney Lee, Kristaps Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
In 21 games played with the Knicks during the 2019-20 season, the guard averaged 14.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per contest. Not to mention, he shot 41.3% from the floor.
Hornets sign guard Dennis Smith Jr. to one-year deal
On February 8, 2019, in the Knicks’ 120-103 loss against the Detroit Pistons, the young star scored a career-high 31 points in 35 minutes of action. He finished 9-for-15 (60%) shooting from the field and 2-for-5 (40%) from downtown.
Then, the Knicks assigned Smith Jr. to the Westchester Knicks of the NBA G League. Though, according to records, he never appeared in a single game.
A week later, the guard and a 2021 second-round draft pick were traded to the Pistons for Derrick Rose.
On September 1, 2021, the guard signed a contract with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Last season, in 37 appearances with Portland, the North Carolina native averaged 5.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest.
Furthermore, on February 16, 2022, Smith Jr. was ruled out for a month after being diagnosed with a high-grade partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.
Of course, Smith Jr. was then waived by the Trail Blazers five days later.
He will have the opportunity to make the Hornets roster during training camp. Unlike most NBA players, the former Trail Blazer’s best year was his rookie season. Quite a few league executives believe Smith Jr. peaked too early.
Nonetheless, based on his past two seasons, the NC State Product can still contribute off the bench. His shooting accuracy is fine. Smith Jr. just lacks the speed and competitive drive he once had.
At just 24 years old, he has more than enough time to improve his game. He might be better off playing for the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets’ G league affiliate. For NBA players, it helps to boost confidence by participating in other basketball leagues.
More news stories pertaining to Dennis Smith Jr. and the Hornets are on the main page.