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Theo Pinson praises Long Island experience and Nets strategy with two-way contract

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Brooklyn Nets Media Day Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Theo Pinson may be most known around the NBA for his sideline dancing with the Nets bench last season, or the inventor of “The Swim” ...

Other than his dancing ... and swimming, Pinson has proven to be the Nets best two-way player since the NBA instituted the roster addition in 2017. And his experience bodes well for the Nets and their lone two-way so far, Henry Ellenson.

Long Island, he said, did a “great job” getting him “ready to play” in the NBA whenever he got the chance.

The Nets wanted Pinson so bad a year ago June that before the second round of the draft ended, they contacted his agent and told him they wanted the North Carolina product on their summer league team and maybe their G League roster.

Pinson thrived last season with the Long Island Nets playing in and starting a total of 34 games averaging 35.6 minutes, 20.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game. His play earned him second-team all NBA G League and NBA G League All-Rookie First Team honors. He shot 38.9 percent from deep, hitting eight in one game. More importantly was that Pinson, once seen as the 10th best player in the loaded high school class of 24, had developed confidence.

He was called on in late January when the Nets were down Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie. Against the Knicks, he scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds, shooting 5-of-11 overall and 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

Now signed on a standard deal ... and penciled in as the Nets third point guard, Pinson praised Long Island for helping him develop and making the transition to play for Brooklyn ‘a lot easier.’ In addition, Pinson stated that the Nets organization knows how to deal with players under two-way contracts.

“[Long Island Nets] are definitely in good hands,” Pinson said, referring to the turnover in the head coaching and GM jobs. “The coaching staff are pretty much the same we had last year so they know what the deal is. They want to finish the job that we couldn’t do last year.”

He was referring to Long Island’s surprise appearance in the G League Finals. Pinson hit the dagger in the conference championship game to get them there.

“The whole experience was good. Brooklyn and Long Island did a great job involving the two ways as far as being ready to play if we needed to if we had to come up for a game with Brooklyn and when we were in Long Island, we would do the same stuff they did in Brooklyn so it made the transition a lot easier.”

Pinson was asked about his continuing connection to new Long Island head coach Shaun Fein and new GM Matt Riccardi. Both were promoted from assistant jobs. Pinson said he talks to them frequently, He is particularly close with Fein and plans to be “forever” close with him.

“Yeah, I see them all the time,” Pinson said. “They would come around in the gym and I’d talk to them, tell them thank you for everything they have done and me and Shaun will forever be close because that was my guy last year and you never forget the ones that were there for you since Day 1.”

Pinson’s personal expectations heading into year two are similar to last year in that he wants to contribute anyway he can this time in Brooklyn rather than Uniondale. With the Nets guard corps well established, how many minutes can Pinson rack up next season? He doesn’t know how many or at what position, but he’s ready to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. The 6’7” sniper said he’s willing to play multiple positions.

”I think the beauty of my game is that I can play multiple positions, guard multiple positions, and contribute, Pinson said. “I do not want to say ‘hey, you are a point guard’ oh you are a shooting guard.’ I think that helps me on the floor.”

At his press conference before Media Day Friday. Kenny Atkinson singled out Pinson as a surprise during player-organized workouts in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

“I do what I am told to do but at the same time I am going to do what I can to get on the floor. I mean everybody wants to play so you just have to wait on your opportunity and that is what helped me to where I am today. I took advantage of my opportunities that were given to me.”

Beyond his play on the hardwood, there’s a question whether Pinson can once again energize Nets bench, with all its new players, to do their now notorious bench celebrations. Pinson says he will miss those guys who joined in on the bench fun last year —he and Dzanan Musa are the survivors— and so will have to see which teammates will follow in their footsteps.

“I mean, we’ll see we’ll see,” Pinson jokes. “Last year it was a fun year. I am going to miss those guys but at the same time, they are all out there doing their own thing.”