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February 16, 2019

Dennis Smith Jr.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Q. How's that transition been with the Knicks?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: I'm enjoying it. The trade happened, business is business. That's out of my control. But to be able to play for the Knicks and Coach [David] Fizdale and that young group of guys has been amazing.

I've been enjoying it, trying to take full advantage. I'm super excited to be a Knick. I'm adjusting to New York City. It's different from Dallas but it's way different from Fayetteville. It's an adjustment. I'm trying to handle my business on the court, work as hard as possible, and competing on both ends every night.

Q. Can you speak about your relationship with J Cole?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: He's like my big brother, man. He's a really good dude. He's a normal Fayetteville guy. He never lets the fame get to his head. So we relate on that kind of level.

Q. What does he say to you?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: "Stay solid."

Q. What does "stay solid" mean to you?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: Staying solid, that's just maintain a level head, remaining calm through any situation, and continuing to work.

Q. A lot of connections here -- Fayetteville, North Carolina.
DENNIS SMITH JR.: That's my guy, man. We know a lot of the same people. It's all love. It's all love.

Q. Talk about tonight's Dunk Contest. How much did you work on dunks this time?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: I worked on them a decent amount coming into it, and yesterday during my rehearsal I had a couple things that I did. Cole was like -- Cole and E was like, we should do this, boom, boom, boom. Baron [Davis] helped me out with a couple of dunks, too. I switched up a couple of things. I think it will still be a good show tonight.

Q. Dennis, is there a time when you can say you bet on yourself and it paid off?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: That I bet on myself?

Q. AAU, college -- what's a risk that you said, I've got to take, and it paid off for you?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: Yeah, definitely college. Definitely college. I could have went to Kentucky or Duke. I ended up going to NC State, and it paid off for me. I'm in a good position. I'm with the Knicks now. So I'm thankful for that. I would say college was that time when I bet on myself, and it paid off.

Q. Can you give us a hint about your dunk today?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: I cannot. I cannot give you a hint. Sorry about that.

Q. Sometimes for guys at All-Star Weekend, you get a chance to see other players' games up close. If you could take a piece of their game, if you could do that for guys out there, what would you try to take?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: I would take Steph Curry's shooting. He's the only person here who's the best of all time at something. I think his shooting ability for sure.

Q. Who do you think is going to win tonight?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: It's tough to say. They're all super athletic. They've got some charisma with them. It's going to be a pretty good contest, I believe. I think the fans will enjoy it.

Q. What would it mean for you, in your home state, to win it?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: It would be great to win it in my home state. I've got a lot of family up here, a lot of love, a lot of NC State fans. To win it here would be amazing.

Q. Do you feel you have an advantage having been in the contest last year?
DENNIS SMITH JR.: Yeah, I'm kind of like a vet. The other guys, it's their first time. So I know a little bit about what's going on, how they gauge the dunks and things of that nature.

Q. How about the history of this event growing up? Give me a little bit how you used to watch it and someone you enjoyed.
DENNIS SMITH JR.: It was one of the most exciting events back in the day. Especially around the time when Nate Robinson was winning it. It was definitely a show. We're looking forward to bringing that back tonight, just the excitement of the dunk contest.

Q. Give me your pick for this season's MVP.
DENNIS SMITH JR.: Right now I'd say it's probably Paul George. He's been doing it on both ends of the court. I'd give it to PG.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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