Mac Engel

The Dallas Mavericks are Luka’s World and Dennis Smith Jr. simply doesn’t fit

The Dallas Mavericks are looking to deal their prized lotto pick from a year ago because he has played his way out of town.

The team that was entirely about DSJ a year ago is now entirely about “The Jedi,” Luka Doncic (I know, I know, the nickname based on Luke Skywalker is a reach, but I just can’t call him “The Matador”).

DSJ doesn’t play well with Luka, and that’s that. DSJ has to be dealt.

The Mavs let this go on too long for him not to be traded. He knows how the Mavs feel about him, so a return to the team that drafted him is a no.

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 7, and bet your friends a cold Shiner with a dozen glazed donuts that DSJ will not be a Mav on Feb. 8, or by Friday.

He missed practice on Tuesday because he had what coach Rick Carlisle called a “stomach bug.” This is after DSJ missed the last three games with tightness in his back.

Lots of players tend to come up with flu-like symptoms when they are about to be traded.

When supreme basketball insider Adrian Wojnarowski says your team is looking to deal you, it’s sell your house. Woj’ reported that the Mavs have “ramped up” their talks to move DSJ on Monday, possibly to the Suns or Magic.

The Mavs host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, so expect DSJ’s back to magically flair up about 90 minutes before tip-off. Or for him to become violently ill.

“We all get into this business knowing this dynamic and knowing that trades are possible. Knowing that everything is possible,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said Tuesday. “It’s already a boiling pot of water, and a couple of degrees here or there and big deal. We have to come in and be professionals. That’s how I view it. Just waiting for him to feel better.”

In three years, the Mavs have transitioned from Dirk Nowitzki’s team, to DSJ’s team, and now to Luka’s team. The Mavs are Luka’s world, and anyone else is living in it, including Der Mann himself.

For Mavs’ fans with long memories, dealing DSJ is not going to be like when they traded away any of the Three Js, Jason Kidd, Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn.

You can find another DSJ.

They need to find another DeAndre Jordan.


All of the analytics, advanced metrics and numbers say the Mavs are better when DSJ and Luka are not on the floor together at the same time. So does the eyeball test. This means this pairing does not work.

The Mavs are better when Luka has the ball in his hands. He is 6-foot-7, but he’s a better point guard than DSJ.

For DSJ to be effective, he must have the ball in his hands.

DSJ has to go.

He is a nice scoring point guard who is an adequate passer. He is not the second coming of Chris Paul, which is the only way the Luka/DSJ pairing was going to work.

Also, according to sources, DSJ doesn’t always bring it all the time, and is prone to boneheaded mistakes. Carlisle is hard on point guards, and he can stomach quite a bit from players, but a guy who does not try all the time is the easiest path to his palatial dog house.

DSJ is only 21, and he may yet figure it out, but it’s not happening here.


NBA sources said they do not believe the Mavs will offer Jordan a multi-year deal after his contract expires in the offseason, which is what both he and his agent will want.

The Jordan the Mavs landed this offseason is no longer the same DeAndre Jordan they thought they had in the bag a few years ago when he said yes, and then no, in free agency.

Since he was at Texas A&M, he’s always been a better athlete than a basketball player. An NBA basketball player can age well. The NBA athlete does not age as well as the player.

Jordan’s strength is as supreme athlete who can run for a month, and jump to Jupiter. DAJ ranks second in the NBA in rebounding, at 14 per game. His problem isn’t rebounding. His problem is catching the ball on offense, and playing as a man who will be 31 this summer.

DAJ averages a double-double, and is a big reason why the Mavs are only two games under .500 with a shot of reaching the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Letting Jordan walk will be considerably easier if the Mavs can find his replacement by moving DSJ right now.

Rebuilding the Mavericks was always going to take years, and the selections of DJS and Luka in the lottery was thought to be their foundation pieces.

Not everything always fits in the NBA, and this is Luka’s world.

DSJ simply does not fit in it.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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