In talking with Alex Schiffer of The Athletic earlier this month, Kenny Atkinson said of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, “hopefully, this is a discovery by us.”
That’s the kind of language the Nets have reserved for other diamonds-in-the-rough like Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie, players who like TLC were dumped on the NBA trash heap only for the Nets to pick up and add some shine.
For now, though, Luwawu-Cabarrot is in a holding pattern waiting for the Nets to decide what to do with him. As a two-way player, the 6’7” Frenchman is running out of NBA days. Once a two-player like TLC spends 45 days —not games— with the parent club —including games, practices and travel, 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 but in recent games, both Schiffer and Brian Lewis have written that he has about a week left before decision.
However, if the Nets want to sign him ... and replace him with another two-way, that decision will have to come Wednesday. It’s the last day a team can sign a two-way.
Schiffer suggested early Wednesday that the Nets have liked what they’ve seen, starting with December 14, the same day that Kyrie Irving went down, two days after Caris LeVert was injured and five days before David Nwaba suffered a season-ending Achilles rupture.
Nets brass had seen him score 35 points for Long Island against the Canton Charge on 14-for-21 shooting on November 22 and figured, let’s see what he can do.
“He’s still a very young player, and I think that was the thought process when we brought him in,” Atkinson said. “He’s a guy that has played minutes in the NBA, played a decent sample size of minutes, but he’s still young, hasn’t found his mark yet in the league. But he’s still young. Let’s take a shot at him.”
Since December 14, TLC has averaged 5.7 points in 15 games, playing 20 minutes eight times in that span.
“Forget the scoring,” Atkinson said after a January 1 practice. “When you ask a guy to play a role, he has done everything to a tee. Whether it’s transition defense, whether it’s guarding a really good player, all our principles, despite not being in training camp, he has seamlessly understood his role. He integrated much sooner than I thought he would.”
Another NBA head coach, the Thunder’s Billy Donovan, also had nice things to say about TLC last week when Oklahoma was in a couple of weeks back.
“He’s a very, very gifted player. He’s got a really, really good feel of how to play. He can get going offensively in terms of making shots,” Donovan said. “Got a good feel in terms of passing the basketball. I think he’s in a really good style here for himself. He was a great guy for us in terms of his attitude and the way he worked and the way he was professional every single day. “
As for Luwawu-Cabarrot, he’s happy with the Nets, that they have taught him how to be an NBA player -after stops with four other teams — the same way his G League coach Shaun Fein taught him how to be a professional eight years ago when the two played together at Antibes in the French League. (Also on the Sharks roster: 15-year-old Isaia Cordinier, the Nets stash still playing in France.)
“I was in the game when games were tight, when we were getting blown out, losing, winning by 30, I’ve been through it all,” he said. “I’m 24 years old now. If I can’t pick up things in one week then I have nothing to do here.”
- ‘Hopefully, this is a discovery by us’: How Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot’s journey led him to fit seamlessly with the Nets - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York