The fraying relationship between Dennis Smith Jr. and the Mavs quickly started to unravel last week, to the point that some feared we may have seen the last of him Dallas. Smith had missed four games with back soreness, then another because of an unspecified illness, and that’s when head coach Rick Carlisle made public comments suggesting that Smith was purposely staying away from the team amid trade rumors for business reasons.
The organization, however, has consistently told the media that their “Plan A” is to keep Smith in Dallas, despite the growing skepticism about his long-term viability alongside Luka Doncic, whose instant stardom has overshadowed Smith just halfway through his rookie season.
On Sunday, Carlisle announced that Smith plans to rejoin the team on Tuesday and is expected suit up for their home game against the Clippers that night. But the Mavs coach took it a step further and explained that he and Smith had a lengthy phone conversation and that he apologized to Smith for how the situation has gotten out of hand.
That sentiment is keeping in line with everything Carlisle has said about Smith during this whole ordeal. He’s had nothing but positive remarks for the talented sophomore guard, at various points praising him for both his work ethic and the tremendous strides he’s made during his season and a half in the league.
Still, questions about his pairing with Doncic aren’t likely to go away unless they can start showing some quantifiable progress. Simply getting him back out on the court together is a good first step.