For the second time in the last three weeks, Spencer Dinwiddie has said he’d gladly sign an extension with the Nets this season — and forego free agency some summer. But also, those he spoke with suggest the Nets might be hard-pressed to do that.
“Oh, I mean, I’d love to have one,” Michael Scott of The Athletic quoted Dinwiddie as saying. “I’d love to be here. This organization has shown me hospitality and given me an opportunity like I haven’t had in the NBA before, so I’m definitely indebted to them, and if they decide to sign me, I’d be one of the happiest players in the league.”
Back on October 13, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports quoted Dinwiddie similarly.
“If Sean Marks calls to give me a contract extension, I’ll take it,” said Dinwiddie. “But until he does, I’m looking forward to being a free agent.”
And therein lies the rub.
The Nets can offer the 25-year-old with the hero’s touch an extension starting December 8, the second anniversary of Marks best signing since he arrived in February 2016, Dinwiddie’s three-year, partially guaranteed deal that was filled with team options. Under the CBA, the Nets can offer Dinwiddie $47.5 million over four years, which could be a bargain come July if he keeps us his play. But if they do, they will be reducing the amount of cap space they’ll have on hand for max free agents this off-season. Right now, they have, give or take, enough for two max free agents, about $50 to $70 million.
There is a way out, but it’s risky. If the Nets and Dinwiddie decide they don’t want to extend, he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. Because the Nets have his Bird Rights, they can wait till all their free agent dreams are fulfilled (or not) and sign him to a deal outside cap space, as long as Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to pay luxury taxes again (and Marks has suggested he is.) Dinwiddie’s cap hold will only be $1.6 million.
The Nets essentially did the same thing this summer with Joe Harris, something Dinwiddie noticed.
“I think if you look at what’s happened here for both of us it’s kind of a little bit of a similar road,” Dinwiddie said. “Joe has turned into, obviously, one of the elite 3-point shooters in the league. He’s obviously one of the hardest workers on our team. Everybody respects him. Everybody loves playing with him, and now he’s going to be here for years to come.
“It is definitely a vote of confidence, and I’m happy for my guy. To see him succeed is big for all of us that have been through the struggle.”
Is Dinwiddie hinting that, like Harris, he would sign for less than market rate, like Harris did? (That’s indeed what Marks told Woj: “You get a guy like Joe Harris who sits here and says, ‘Look, I want to re-sign with Brooklyn. I’ll take far less to do so,”)
Of course, the other question is how many point guards or guards in general can the Nets keep happy, with money and minutes. D’Angelo Russell is also up for free agency this summer and in a year, so will Caris LeVert.
Everyone, it seems, is pointing to some (very) early +/- data to suggest that DLo and Din don’t really work together despite how both have improved, along with LeVert, this season.
Scotto pointed to this tweet.
Some noteworthy net rating splits with the Nets ball-handlers:— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) November 1, 2018
Dinwiddie, Russell and LeVert all on court: -26.0 (55 minutes)
Russell and LeVert, no Dinwiddie: +2.2 (148)
Russell and Dinwiddie, no LeVert: 0.0 (12)
Dinwiddie and LeVert, no Russell: +14.9 (51)
Steve Lichtenstein of WFAN shared some other, similar data.
#Nets now 2-3 in games within 5 points with < 5 minutes left thanks to Dinwiddie's heroics last night. Should be noted that Dinwiddie/LeVert/DLo lineup has worst net rating (minus-26) among all Nets' 3-man lineups that have played > 50 mins. Part of reason DLo was odd man out.— Steve Lichtenstein (@SteveLichtenst1) November 1, 2018
Dinwiddie/Russell pair is also the #Nets worst 2-man combo among those that have played > 50 minutes. In 67 minutes together, the Nets have a minus-21.3 net rating. A continuation of a big issue from last season.— Steve Lichtenstein (@SteveLichtenst1) November 1, 2018
There is, of course, another alternative: the Nets could trade Dinwiddie ... or Russell and get a pick, a young player or both. The Nets seem in no rush to do anything right now, but they don’t have people with the titles, “Cap and contract specialist,” “Director of contract management” and “Strategic planning coordinator” on the payroll for nothing.
In fact, there is no rush. The Nets have five weeks until they OPEN talks with Dinwiddie and his agent on an extension and until June 30 to conclude one. It’s also rare for any big deal to go down before December 15 when most of the free agents signed last summer can be traded. That’s one third of the league —and one third of the Nets roster as well.
So in the meantime, we suggest fans enjoy the wealth of young talented guards on the roster. After all, it was only three seasons back that the point guard rotation was Jarrett Jack, Shane Larkin and Donald Sloan. Seen them lately?