The Nets three young guards had good games Friday night at the Garden, admittedly against a Knick corps that leaves a lot to be desired.
Still, 22-year-old D’Angelo Russell finished with 18 points, eight assists, four rebounds and only one turnover. He shot an efficient 6-of-12, including 2-of-5 from deep.
Playing next to him, 24-year-old Caris LeVert hit 4-of-6 three-pointers, 5-of-14 overall, adding 14 points, four assists and three rebound to the Nets mix. He finished with three turnovers, giving him 17 for preseason.
Backing up the two of them quite efficiently, 25-year-old Spencer Dinwiddie had a team-high 19 points, shooting 6-of-11, including 2-of-5 from downtown, to go along with five rebounds, three assists and again only one turnover.
Moreover, the offense they directed scored 113 points, hitting 50.6 percent of its shots overall, including 40.5 percent from deep. EIGHT Nets finished in double figures.
“We’ve got multiple guys capable of doing that. The ball just happened to find its way to me,” Russell said of his big fourth quarter when he rescued the Nets from a Knick surge. “Everybody had that feel, that bounce in their step. It was easy for me to find guys because guys ran the offense. We ran the offense really good, so guys were open.”
So now what? Can the Nets continue to play these three, plus Allen Crabbe and Shabazz Napier, both of whom were out vs. New York. In a story written before the game, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports discussed the Nets logjam.
Is there a competition? Dinwiddie says no.
“Not at all,” Dinwiddie said. “No. 2 pick. Franchise PG. Future and all that good stuff.”
Russell says nice things about Dinwiddie, too.
“Guys are thirsty for opportunity in this league,” Russell said, talking about his teammate’s breakout year last season. “You give guys an opportunity that have prepared for it, they’ll take advantage of it.”
Still, the Nets have to make decisions on Russell and Dinwiddie. LeVert can wait a year. Russell will be eligible for a big deal come June when his rookie contract ends. He told Feldman the contract year “motivates” him. Dinwiddie is eligible for a new contract even sooner, in December, the second anniversary of his signing a three year, partially guaranteed vets minimum deal. The Nets can tear up his deal at any point between December 8 and June 30, rewarding him with a three-year, $47.5 million contract. Otherwise, he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.
“If Sean Marks calls to give me a contract extension, I’ll take it,” Dinwiddie said. “But until he does, I’m looking forward to being a free agent.”
The Nets decision tree, of course, will be impacted by a lot of things, starting with DLo’s production (and health); LeVert’s ability to play the point efficiently and whatever trade offers the Nets might get for Dinwiddie, who has been pursued by multiple teams (and may be again with both the Suns and Spurs now desperate for a PG.)
Expect Sean Marks to be patient. He’ll likely look at what DLo, Din and CLV can do between now and December. No need to do much before then. He can’t extend Dinwiddie till December 8 and more than 100 NBA players become eligible to be traded on December 15.
Until then, expect the Nets to enjoy an embarrassment of riches. As Feldman notes, After years stuck losing and surrendering its first-round pick, Brooklyn suddenly has two maybe three young point guards with potential to handle the starting job long-term.
There are worse things. We know.
- Nets could have point guard conundrum between D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie - Dan Feldman - NBC Sports