New Detroit Pistons guard has 48-inch vertical and funny J. Cole stories


The Detroit Pistons just got a little more athletic.

Dennis Smith Jr., a New York Knicks guard playing with the team’s G League affiliate in Westchester, New York, is coming to the Pistons. He was traded along with a second-round draft pick to the Pistons in exchange for Derrick Rose.

Smith, a springy athlete drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2017 before being dealt to the Knicks less than two seasons into his pro career, has averaged 12.4 points on 39.9% field goal shooting and 4.5 assists through 159 NBA games.

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While Smith was most recently sent to the G League, he has played parts of five NBA season at just 23 years old. After a strong rookie campaign in 2017-18 (15.2 points per game, 5.2 assists per game), Smith’s scoring has consistently fallen and he’s struggled to consistently shoot the 3-pointer (he has yet to make a third of his threes over the course of a season). But, still, the guy’s just 23.

With the trade, the 32-year-old Rose is, once again, reunited with coach Tom Thibodeau.

Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. drives to the basket past Hornets forward P.J. Washington on Wednesday in Charlotte. The Hornets won 107-101.

A couple more things to know about the newest Piston:

You may have seen him on the highlight reel

Most people familiar with Smith know one part of his game in particular: the dude has rise. Smith, standing just 6-foot-2, was part of both the 2018 and 2019 dunk contests. While he hasn’t won one, he has attained multiple 50 scores and even invoked a Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist in one attempt.

There aren’t a ton of 6-2 guards making back-to-back Slam Dunk Contests, but then again, there aren’t a ton of people in general with the 48-inch vertical Smith reportedly boasts.

A dip in playing time since being traded to New York has curtailed his ability to add to the highlights, but few bigs want to see Smith with an open lane. Speaking of that trade to New York…

On the move again

As mentioned earlier, Smith is being traded for the second time in his career, though in a deal not quite as notable. Kristaps Porziņģis headlined the transaction that sent Smith, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks from the Mavericks to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Courtney Lee and Porziņģis.

Story continues

Two years removed from that January 2019 trade, the Knicks no longer have any of those players while the Mavericks are hoping Porziņģis and Luka Doncic can lead a supporting cast led by Hardaway and Burke to a deep postseason run.

Oh, Knicks.

He once stayed up until 3:27 a.m. ‘to be exact’ playing J. Cole in basketball

Dreamville, stand up. Multiplatinum rapper J. Cole and Smith have been cool for years, as chronicled in this Bleacher Report video. The Fayetteville, North Carolina, natives crossed paths in December 2014 — when Cole had released his third studio album “2014 Forest Hills Drive” that would end in a Grammy nomination and Smith was in the midst of a junior season that would end with him being named Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina.

Smith and Cole remained friends after arrived a North Carolina State, where Smith won ACC Freshman of the Year before declaring for the 2017 draft. One night when the two were shooting around, Cole was so determined to beat Smith, the two were in the gym until “3:27 a.m. to be exact.”

Cole appeared in one of the dunk contest Smith participated in, and Smith later gave his friend props for dunking on and giving 40 to a bunch of average joes in a Raleigh men’s basketball league.

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at tjdavis@freepress.com or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: New Detroit Pistons guard Dennis Smith Jr. has tight bond with J. Cole



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