CLEVELAND — Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. could stand for something to go his way, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen Monday.
Smith, the key return piece to the Kristaps Porzingis trade, made his first start of the season Saturday against the Pacers — his presence sound enough for the Knicks to squeak out one of their season’s best victories, 92-85. But interim coach Mike Miller said Smith will likely go back to coming off the bench.
Smith got the promotion only because starter Elfrid Payton was suspended one game after his sore-loser shove of Jae Crowder in the final minute of their blowout loss to Memphis last week and because Frank Ntilikina’s groin injury is lingering for a second straight season.
The trade deadline is Thursday, and Smith has drawn some interest, according to sources. The Timberwolves reportedly have interest. One NBA source told The Post that the Magic have inquired.
The question is whether he drew enough for Miller to hand him another start in the team’s last game before the trade deadline, especially with the Knicks in showcase mode.
At Saturday’s morning shootaround, before Smith’s solid performance, it didn’t seem as if Miller was ready to go there.
“We’ve been pleased at the starts we’re getting off to,” Miller said. “If we feel there’s a need to look at it at some point, we’re always open to look at it. But we’re pleased with how we’re starting games.”
After Smith’s poised two-way performance, Miller’s needle may not have moved much.
“Elfrid has played really well,” Miller said following the game. “As guys get more playing time, it just strengthens our roster. That’s what we have right now. We’ve strengthened our roster.”
While Smith’s numbers don’t jump off the page, (six points, six assists, two turnovers, 27 minutes), he was a key force in setting an energetic tone on both ends. He also banged in two key jump shots in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been looking forward to that,” Smith said of starting. “Whenever I get that opportunity, I can let my hair down and have fun and do whatever it takes to win.”
It’s been a morose third season for Smith. After his stepmother died, he left the team for two weeks to grieve. When David Fizdale was fired, Miller didn’t play him at all in two straight games.
An unusual oblique injury then cost him 13 straight games. He made his return Jan. 23 against the Lakers, but then didn’t play at all in the next two games.
His reemergence the past three games has elicited speculation Knicks brass is simply showcasing him for a trade.
“I’ve answered your trade-deadline questions,” Smith said smirking. “No more trade deadline questions.” Then he added later, “I want to be a Knick.”
One source familiar with Smith’s thinking said, “He just wants to play.”