Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Twice in his first four seasons in the NBA, Dennis Smith Jr. had to pack his bags in the middle of the season. In 2019, he went from the Dallas Mavericks to the New York Knicks in the Kristaps Porzingis deal a week before deadline day. In February 2021, the Knicks traded him to the Detroit Pistons for Derrick Rose.

This past Thursday, Smith, now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, was well aware that, until the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline passed, it could happen again.

"I knew about some teams that wanted me," Smith said. "But I also knew the Nets wanted to keep me here, and I wanted to be here." 

Smith's name was not in the rumor mill the way some of his teammates' were. Still, his approach to the trade deadline day was, "Let's see what happens," he said.

"I know nothing was off the table," Smith said. "I could be moved, I could stay; I was up in the air. I was playing it by ear, like everybody else."

At 12:42 p.m., ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Brooklyn was trading Spencer Dinwiddie to the Toronto Raptors for Dennis Schroder. This did not surprise Smith. What surprised him, though, was Wojnarowski's since-deleted follow-up: "Dennis Smith Jr., is heading to the Raptors in the trade and Thad Young is coming to the Nets, sources tell ESPN."

At 12:49 p.m., Wojnarowski followed up again: "Clarify: Thad Young is coming to the Nets in the trade with DENNIS Schroder, sources said."

At 12:52 p.m., Smith, still a Net, used a gif to illustrate where his head was at: 

As effective and efficient as that post was, Smith elaborated after Brooklyn's 123-103 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

"Look, I'm going to give you the whole walkthrough," Smith said at the postgame podium. "So, I was on the phone with my dawg [Ibrahim Hamad, co-founder of Dreamville Records and J. Cole's manager], right? And I had knew where Spencer was going to go because, you know, that's my homie. So I'm like, 'All right, Spencer's going to the Raptors.' So I tell him that on the phone, and I got bro's tweets on -- Woj -- so all his tweets, they come right on my phone as soon as he tweet 'em on deadline day. And I'm like, 'Yeah, Spencer's going there, boom, boom,' and I'm on FaceTime and I see my name pop up.

"And I'm like, 'Man, hell nah,' so I click on it: 'Dennis Smith Jr. traded to the Raptors.' And I'm like -- I had a knot in my stomach, bro. I'm talking about I was sick. And then I tell him and he's like, 'Nah, no way, no way.' And I look at my phone and it say [Nets assistant general manager] 'Andy Birdsong.' He calling me as I seen it. And I've been traded before, midyear, so I'm like, 'He finna deliver the news.' So I'm looking at that thing, I'm like, 'I ain't finna answer this shit.' Then I was like, 'No, I'm gonna answer.' So then I press answer and he's like, 'No, no, no, it was a typo, you good, you staying here, don't worry.' So I start hitting everybody, like, 'Man, that's cap, I ain't going nowhere.'"

As a result of the Woj Bomb that turned out to be a false alarm, Smith's phone was "blowing up," he said. "I ain't even get no pregame nap that day. You know what I'm saying? I ain't even take no nap. I was sick. I went outside, took a little walk, just tried to decompress real quick. But it was crazy. It was crazy." 

Smith drew laughs at the podium, and then, on his way out of Barclays Center, he said that, after his prior experiences, he would not have been excited about having to leave Brooklyn.

"I just hate having to pack up, man," Smith said. "I was like, 'To a whole new country?'"

Shown a post from The Ringer writer and Toronto resident Danny Chau, who was briefly enchanted by the possibility of Smith bringing his point-of-attack defense north of the border -- "Those 30 seconds when I thought the Raptors were getting Dennis Smith Jr. What a rush." -- Smith smiled.

"Damn," he said. "They wanted me there? I guess that's a good thing, huh?"

Getting traded can be a huge hassle, but it can also remind you that you're valued, as Garrett Temple, Smith's non-teammate in Toronto, likes to tell younger players. Smith may have been "sick" for a second on Thursday, but in exchange he got a story to tell, plus that reminder, without all the hassle. Fair trade.