Soft-spoken Dennis Smith Jr. spent the early part of Wednesday, his first official day as a Dallas Maverick, agreeing to terms on a four-year rookie contract that, as part of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, will pay him at least $2.7 million in each of his first two seasons with team options the final two years.
Then it was off to practice, where Smith worked with the crew that will head to the NBA’s MGM Resorts Las Vegas Summer League for Saturday’s opening game against the Chicago Bulls at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Smith headlines the squad along with Mavericks regulars Dorian Finney-Smith, A.J. Hammons, Nicolas Brussino and Yogi Ferrell.
“It was a good first day for everybody. I’m super excited,” Smith said. “There was a lot of people taken in front of me in the draft and everybody thinks that they’re the best. I’m just going to go out and I truly believe I’m the best player and I’m going to show it.”
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Smith comes into a situation with the organization needing a spark at the point.
Seth Curry, who played some point guard last season, could perhaps move into a more natural shooting guard role next season, while the team returns veteran J.J. Berea.
Ferrell turned a 10-day contract in January into a multiyear deal with the Mavericks after a torrid four-game introductory stretch that he capped with a 32-point performance, including 9 of 11 on 3-pointers, at Portland.
Needing a playmaker and depth at the point guard position, the Mavericks used the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft to grab the high-octane Smith.
In his only season at North Carolina State, he averaged 18.1 points and 6.2 assists per game.
Viewed as a potential starter by head coach Rick Carlisle, Smith said he isn’t taking anything for granted and pointed to Ferrell as an ideal teammate to push for the starting role.
“I think Yogi can make me a lot better,” Smith said. “He had a pretty good year last year and the crazy story of the 10-day contract.
“Now he’s here and a part of the organization. I think we’ll push each other.”
Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, entering his fourth season as the summer league head coach, said there’s no timetable for Smith to pick up on the Mavericks system, but pointed to the number of regulars getting work in Las Vegas as something that will help the process.
“I think it’s huge because there’s guys around that understand the language and understand what we’re talking about,” Mosley said. “It’s an ongoing process for him because the system is constantly evolving, it’s constantly going.
“But he’s a bright, smart kid and just judging from what he did here today, he’s willing to listen and I don’t think it will take him long to pick it up.”