Knicks head coach David Fizdale is hopeful he can trust the newly-acquired Dennis Smith Jr. to revitalize New York's offense.
"I want to put the ball in his hands a lot and get him out in the open court and get him a lot of space," Fizdale said on Saturday, according to ESPN's Ian Begley. "Give him some freedom to make some mistakes and while he's learning. At the same time I want to challenge him to do more defensivey. To think more of himself defensivey. But man, there's no doubt about it. The kid's a talent and hopefully we can bring it out consistently."
Smith was the lone player the Knicks acquired who could fit in the team's long-term plans in Thursday's blockbuster trade with the Mavericks that sent Kristaps Porzingis and three other players to Dallas.
The 21-year-old Smith, whom the Knicks passed over in the 2017 draft in favor of Frank Ntilikina, has averaged 12.9 points and 4.3 assists so far this season. The Knicks also acquired DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, who both have expiring contracts, however Fizdale said he wasn't sure if the trio would be cleared in time for Sunday's game against the Grizzlies.
"We don't know yet. It's still in holding," Fizdale said, according to the New York Post's Zach Braziller. "We don't know when it's going to go through. We're just excited that they're here."
Thursday's trade sent Porzingis and guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to Dallas, while the Knicks also received two future first-round picks.
Because of injuries to point guards Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay, New York, currently riding a 12-game losing streak, only played three guards in Friday's game loss to the Celtics: Damyean Dotson, Kadeem Allen and Allonzo Trier.
But Fizdale hopes the 6-foot-3 Smith can make an impact right away.
"I told him, 'I'm going to try to really challenge you defensively, to take you to another level, because there's more there,'" Fizdale said of Smith. "He's open to it. He's embracing it.
"[He's] just a powerful, explosive guard who can get into the paint against anybody, who gets other people involved, who rebounds the ball."