Smith, who is coming off knee surgery in February, will not participate in the team’s final game in the summer league. He is healthy, but the team wants him to focus on getting in shape and preparing for training camp. Smith said he’s ready to prove he’s 100 percent healthy once he gets to training camp.
[+] Enlarge“I’m happy. It’s like going home,” Smith said. “I’m happy to be in this situation. … Playing for a team like the Dallas Mavericks, their organization is just wonderful. I’m happy to be there.”
Smith’s grandparents, mother and uncle all live in Dallas. Smith said he was pleased to hear that the Mavs were trying to acquire him for the past two seasons via trade.
“It’s great to go somewhere that they want you,” he said.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Smith averaged 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game over the past three seasons with the Houston Rockets. The Bulls signed him through next season after Houston waived him in April.
“He’s got a skill set that we need in our front line,” Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ general manager and president of basketball operations, said earlier this week. “He’s thicker and he’s got the right combination of experience and youth. With Chicago it was kind of more of a salary dump to do a bigger deal. It didn’t cost us anything.
“We think we got a really good young player that can provide us punch in our front line.”
Mavs owner Mark Cuban had previously said Smith was someone the team has been trying to acquire for the past two seasons. Smith is slated to play more center than power forward and will back up Tyson Chandler.
“I’ll bring a lot of defense,” Smith said of his role. “I love playing defense. I’m going to learn being next to Tyson, and I’m excited to play with Tyson. I’ll be a banger.
“I’ll be that guy who is a stopper that won’t allow anything inside.”
Playing for Houston, Smith was teammates with Chandler Parsons. Smith is excited to be reunited with Parsons and says he believes Dallas will be pleased with what the versatile forward can bring to the team.
“He’s going to bring so much to the team,” Smith said. “People don’t understand what he gave to the Rockets. He means a lot, and he’ll bring a lot to the Mavericks.”
The experience in Houston allowed Smith to bang and work alongside the likes of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik, two of the league’s best defensive centers. Smith said that was a huge learning experience for him, and he plans to take what he learned from his time with the Rockets and expand on it in Dallas.
“I feel like I can showcase what they taught me and be able to play defense against anyone in the league,” Smith said.