Knicks' Dennis Smith Jr. wants to end the tough season at full speed


It is impossible not to see the discussion of the Knicks' options for their first-round selection in this year's draft as a reflection of the disappointing first full season that Dennis Smith Jr. has had with the team.

Swiss Post Marc Berman reported last week that the Knicks scouting staff were instructed to have "top priority" because their expected lottery for 2020 is point protection.

Smith, who was acquired from Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas in blockbuster trading last year, has had an injury-ridden and unproductive year. The ninth Mavericks election in 2017 came with high hopes, but averaged 5.2 points and 2.8 assists over 15.5 minutes per performance.

"Of course, I want to win games, just keep improving and become a better version of myself and continue to be a great teammate," said Smith on Thursday when asked about the Knicks' last 27 games. “I have personal goals that I have set myself. Of course, I won't share them, but I have personal goals and I think I can achieve them with these last games. "

Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr.NBAE via Getty Images

Elfrid Payton started most games (27) and played the Knicks' best point guard trio (9.7 points and 6.9 assists per game), but he only got $ 1 million for his $ 8 million deal guaranteed for the next season.

Frank Ntilikina, who was selected by Knicks before Smith in 2017, has made 25 starts. The 22-year-old Smith only started twice in 30 games.

"Things happen, it's like life, there are things that happen, there are ups and downs, but you have to put up with everything," said Smith. "You can't be broken. The way I see it, I came into this league with a vision of who I will be and I know what my goals were.

"I can't allow that to be shaken by anything that's happening. If I have to go through it to get where I am going, I have to take care of it."

Payton (aching right ankle) and Wayne Ellington (tense right ankle) are questionable for Friday's home game against the Pacers.

When asked if one of the injuries was classified as serious, interim coach Mike Miller said, "I don't think so. Wayne somehow optimized his [Wednesday], Precaution. And Elfrid was just a little sore today. But I think it's just about making sure that nothing comes of it. "