After dealing with a death in the family, Dennis Smith Jr. will rejoin the New York Knicks, but he won’t play in his return to Dallas.
The New York Knicks will have Dennis Smith Jr. back with the team, but the plan is to ease him back into the rotation. As a result, he won’t play in his first opportunity in Dallas against his former team.
Once Dennis Smith Jr. does come back, David Fizdale said they're going to assess his conditioning level, where he's at physically, etc. before deciding how much he's able to play right away. But expect him to be eased back in.
— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) November 7, 2019
Smith was dealing with the loss of a close family member and hasn’t played since Saturday, Oct. 26 against the Boston Celtics.
The third-year point guard struggled in his first three games this season. His defense has been atrocious and he’s lost some of the scoring prowess that made him such a tantalizing piece in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. He’s 1-for-11 from the field this season, but it’s too early to completely write off the 21-year-old.
Once he’s eased back into the rotation, he’ll have an opportunity to earn minutes. While Elfrid Payton deals with a hamstring injury, the Knicks are starting Frank Ntilikina at point guard with RJ Barrett handling ballhandling duties with the second unit.
Although the Knicks’ point guard depth has been depleted for much of this season, Ntilikina is taking full advantage of his opportunity. He’s coming off his best performance of the season against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
The French point guard was a menace on defense, but that wasn’t the most telling aspect of his performance. He scored 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting while also dishing out four assists.
The Knicks and Mavericks will meet at American Airlines Arena Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET).