Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, the Nets two-way player, may soon force Brooklyn brass into a decision: do they keep him around or send him back to Long Island.
“Timmy,” as Kenny Atkinson calls him, had 11 points, five rebounds and a steal Monday in 19 minutes, including 3-of-5 from deep, all three makes coming during a Nets run midway at the beginning of the fourth. His performance was one of the team’s few bright spots in the loss to the TWolves.
Atkinson, in fact, has been giving TLC more and more minutes following the injury to David Nwaba. Since December 14, five days before Nwaba went down, Luwawu-Cabarrot has played 20.4 minutes a game in eight contests after being brought up from Long Island. He’s averaged 5.3 points and 2.4 rebounds and shot 37.5 percent overall, 33.3 percent from deep during that stretch. But in the last three games, he’s averaged nine points, shot 8-of-16, including 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) on three’s. All good for 24-year-old French swingman ... and the Nets scouting department.
He’s also played good defense, something that has always intrigued his proponents. Atkinson has spoken glowingly of his contributions and his skill set, even before his recent stretch.
“I like his athleticism and his length,” Atkinson said two weeks ago. “He just gives us another long wing. He’s fit in nicely with the group. Understands the offense, what we want. He’s not passive either.” He’ll take it to the rim. He shoots open catch-and-shoots. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”
However, two-way contracts in the NBA come with restrictions. Once a player spends 45 days —not games— with the parent club, the team must either give the player a standard deal or send him back to the G League for good. There’s no public accounting of days (which includes games, travel and practices) so we don’t know how many days he has left before the Nets have to decided, but he’s now in the rotation. (Teams have been known to keep two-way players out of practices to keep the numbers down.)
So what’s the solution? The Nets could waive Nwaba to open up a spot so they sign Luwawu-Cabarrot. That would also open up TLC’s two-way deal which the Nets could fill and protect one of their more prized Long Island Nets players from being called up by another team. They’d have to do all that by January 15, the last day teams can sign two-ways.
It would be a big deal for Luwawu-Cabarrot since even with 45 days of NBA time, he wouldn’t make $400,000 as a two-way. With his now five years of NBA experience, TLC could make three or four times that, even pro-rated from the time he signs a standard deal.
For the Nets, it would be a justification of their two-way strategy. Unlike a lot of teams who grab undrafted players for the 16th and 17th spots, Sean Marks decided this year to sign “strong draft assets that may have been underdeveloped for one reason or another,” as The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie noted last month.
It’s entirely possible that as the Nets walking wounded return to action, there’ll be fewer minutes for Luwawu-Cabarrot and thus no need for the Nets to figure out whether to upgrade him, but at this point, they now know what he can do.