It’s impossible not to view discussion of the Knicks’ options for their first-round pick in this year’s draft as a reflection of the disappointing first full season Dennis Smith Jr. has endured with the team.
The Post’s Marc Berman reported last week the Knicks’ scouting staff has been instructed “the top priority” with their expected 2020 lottery pick is a scoring point guard.
Smith, acquired in last year’s blockbuster trade of Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas, has endured an injury-plagued and unproductive year. The ninth-overall pick by the Mavericks in 2017 arrived with high hopes, but is averaging 5.2 points and 2.8 assists over 15.5 minutes per appearance.
“I obviously want to win games, just continue to improve and become a better version of myself and continue to be a great teammate,” Smith said Thursday when asked about the Knicks’ final 27 games. “I got personal goals that I set in mind. Obviously I’m not gonna share them, but I have personal goals and I believe I can reach ’em with these last games.”
Elfrid Payton has started the most games (27) and played the best of the Knicks’ point guard trio (9.7 points and 6.9 assists per game), but he has just $1 million guaranteed on his $8 million deal for next season.
Frank Ntilikina, chosen one pick ahead of Smith by the Knicks in 2017, has made 25 starts. The 22-year-old Smith has started just twice in 30 appearances.
“Things happen, it’s just like life, there’s things that happen, there’s ups and downs, but you gotta take it all in stride,” Smith said. “You can’t let it break you, for sure. The way I look at it is I came into this league with a vision of who I’m gonna be and I know what my goals were.
“I can’t let that be shaken by anything that’s happening. If this is what I gotta go through to get to where I’m going, I gotta deal with it.”
Payton (sore right ankle) and Wayne Ellington (strained right ankle) are questionable for Friday’s home game against the Pacers.
Asked if either injury is considered serious, interim coach Mike Miller said: “I don’t think so. Wayne kind of tweaked his [Wednesday]. Precautionary. And Elfrid was just a little bit sore today. But I think it’s just making sure that it doesn’t turn into anything.”