The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly shopping young point guard Dennis Smith Jr. who was selected at No. 9 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft.
According to someone close to the situation who spoke with Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was particularly tough on the 21-year-old guard. It is not surprising that a coach, especially one like Carlisle who has won an NBA championship, would challenge his developing player(s) to improve.
Some have described this as a coach being demanding in the “best interest” of development. But the person who spoke with Fisher noticed “something changed” in the last few weeks between Smith and Carlile.
Perhaps the most indicative example is the dynamic between the two during games. Tim Bontemps reported an observation from a scout who recently watched the Mavericks (via ESPN):
“An example of the balancing act the Mavericks are attempting with Dennis Smith Jr.: a scout who saw Dallas recently said Rick Carlisle would try to call specific plays for Smith in an attempt to try to get him going – only for Smith to break them off, leaving Carlisle frustrated.”
If this is an accurate reading of the situation between both parties, it is a particularly damning assessment of Smith. It also paints Carlisle in a light that tried to remedy the situation, whereas the point guard feels fed up.
This also falls in with other recent reporting indicating that Smith is done with the Mavericks following the “continued butting of heads” between him and his head coach.
It’s clear that Smith is upset, though if he was ignoring plays that his coach is calling for the purpose of getting him more involved, one will wonder how it impacts his reputation. That’s what insider Sean Deveney reported on Friday (via Sporting News):
“Carlisle can be a hardliner who runs a very tight ship in Dallas, and Smith is not the first point guard to chafe under his rigidity. But for any team considering trading for Smith, there is concern that, at his age and experience level, he is already having problems with tough coaching and his role on the team.”
As an athlete, Smith has one of the more promising upsides in the league.
But if he is having such drastic problems with a respected coach like Carlisle, it will certainly raise some eyebrows from rival front offices as well as other coaching staffs.