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Dennis Smith Jr.’s bizarre Mavericks exile ends

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Good morning. We have that and more in Monday’s NBA newsletter.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Smith Jr. will return to the Mavericks on Tuesday and apparently be back in the Dallas rotation. This follows a bizarre week-long absence amid trade rumors, fugazy injuries, and hurt feelings. It’s impossible to know what’s really going on here. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has been shockingly tender in his comments about Smith since the announcement he’s coming back, even apologizing to Smith, which is not something one typically associates with Carlisle or the Mavericks organization.

That tells me that the Mavericks screwed something up here and are trying to salvage a situation that’s gotten out of hand.

Regardless of what actually happened here, the fact that Carlisle and the Mavericks have alienated their No. 9 pick from two drafts ago enough that he went into exile for a week spells out the case that somewhere along the way, Dallas’ brain trust screwed up. Whether that was in drafting DSJ in the first place or in mismanaging his transition into life alongside Luka Doncic (with whom Smith seems to get along well), it’s bad. As Josh Bowe notes at Mavs Moneyball, Dallas doesn’t exactly have many blue chip youths to rely on beyond Doncic and Smith.

Perhaps in another year or two this will look like a funny little blip, a footnote in the Mavericks’ rise to excellence behind Doncic. A superstar can paper over a lot. (Dirk Nowitzki sure did for a number of years.) But it sure is curious right now, even with DSJ coming back.

Scores

Hornets 95, Pacers 120
Suns 114, Timberwolves 116
Clippers 103, Spurs 95

Schedule

All times Eastern. On League Pass unless otherwise noted.

Thunder at Knicks, 12:30, NBA TV
Bulls at Cavaliers, 1
Pistons at Wizards, 2
Mavericks at Bucks, 2
Magic at Hawks, 3, NBA TV
Kings at Nets, 3:30
Pelicans at Grizzlies, 5:30, TNT
Heat at Celtics, 6
Rockets at Sixers, 8, TNT
Blazers at Jazz, 9
Warriors at Lakers, 10:30, TNT

Links

Sunday was the fifth anniversary of the first Good Morning It’s Basketball. We’ve done 1,268 newsletters, give or take a few lost in the internet ether. Thanks for reading, which allows me to do this.

What a fabulous Saturday of NBA basketball we had on ABC’s first Saturday night primetime showcase of the season. Rockets vs. Lakers was unbelievable. Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook have very legitimate beef. Even things were lit on League Pass: look at this freaking Buddy Hield game winner at the buzzer.

The Thunder are Paul George’s team now.

Lonzo Ball has a Grade 3 ankle sprain. He’s going to be out up to six weeks. In related news, put D’Angelo Russell in the All-Star Game.

Whitney Medworth has some issues with the self-lacing sneakers in B-Sides.

The first rule of Marcus Smart Fight Club is to stay the hell away from Marcus Smart Fight Club.

Maya Moore has a dispute with the Lynx, and it could have massive ramifications for the WNBA.

DeMarcus Cousins debuted for the Warriors on Friday. He looks good. We’re all doomed. Also, I wrote about Boogie.

How the Nets became the best basketball team in New York City. In related news, put D’Angelo Russell in the All-Star Game.

Zion Williamson is not ending his Duke season early.

We may get some Carmelo Anthony movement on Monday as the Rockets plan to sign Kenneth Faried, who was waived by the Nets. It remains unclear how Houston will free up a roster spot. Trading or waiving Melo seems the most obvious solution.

The first half of Kelly Dwyer’s midseason power rankings. You can get all of KD’s bon mots for a reasonable fee, FYI. Support independent takes.

Dwyane Wade’s farewell tour made a stop at Marquette, and it was awesome.

The Knicks should not trade Frank Ntilikina for Dennis Smith Jr. In related news, put D’Angelo Russell in the All-Star Game.

What’s going on with Wayne Ellington?

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, from his “Beyond Vietnam” speech a year before his assassination: “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’ There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect.”

Be excellent to each other.