Spencer Dinwiddie has always been a bit of a troll. He’s both cryptic and crypto. Like this tweet Saturday afternoon.
Coming amid trade rumors, the video (from the series, “Avatar the Last Air Bender”) encouraged all manner of interpretation, including this from one or our fans, quoting the show...
“Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished.”
In this case, Spencer compares himself to the Avatar- which makes sense considering his affinity to these types of shows. That would make the Nets the “world.”
When the Nets needed him most (title aspirations this season), he vanished (traded).
That’s probably as good as any interpretation. Indeed, no one would be surprised to wake up and see the 27-year-old has been traded, including perhaps Dinwddie himself. How come? After all, Dinwiddie led the team in scoring (20.6) and assists (6.8) and is one of the top finishers in the NBA, even if his 3-point shooting dipped last season. Of course, he’s a fan favorite as well as a symbol of the Nets ability to discover and develop talent.
Dinwiddie also stepped up as the Brooklyn backcourt was ravaged by injury. As Greg Logan wrote Saturday...
Dinwiddie comes off the bench behind starters Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, but because of injuries to that pair, his 49 starts were just two short of their combined starts. And Dinwiddie’s season ended with a game-winning shot on March 10 on the road against the Lakers because he missed the re-start after testing positive for COVID-19...
At the same time, Dinwiddie is one of the best point guards in the NBA in terms of getting to the rim. He shot 48.5% from two-point range, the second-best figure of his career, while recording career-highs of 4.7 makes and 9.7 attempts per game. Plus, he always has excelled at crunch time as part of the Nets’ finishing lineup.
So here’s the issue ... or issues. If Irving and LeVert are healthy, then Dinwiddie is an ideal trade asset, whether it’s for James Harden or that perennial favorite of Nets Twitter, Aaron Gordon, or someone else. We were told he was dangled on Draft Night, that the Nets had looked into moving up into the top four, five or six of the first round so they could grab one of the top bigs who were available. Didn’t happen. Over the last year, there have been rumors about the Nets discussing trades with the Pelicans and Mavericks centered on him.
Then, there’s his contract situation. Dinwiddie is entering the second year of a three-year deal worth $34.3 million, as Logan noted, with a player option for the 2021-22 season worth $12.3 million. Everyone believes he will opt out. He’ll be entering the prime of his career with a solid resume’. If Joe Harris can get $72 million (plus bonuses) over four years, what could Dinwiddie command?
Moreover, Dinwiddie recently dumped his agent and is representing himself. That’s a strong indication he wants control of his situation going forward. It fits with the other punditry that Dinwiddie wants to run his own team, not back up a superstar at the height of his powers.
During Sean Marks post-NBA draft media availability, the Nets GM was asked if he has discussed trade rumors with Dinwiddie. “Spencer and I have an open relationship,” Marks said. “He can come and talk to me about whatever he wants. That’s part of the business when you have to navigate a roster and personalities.”
Of course, the Nets, in a win-now mode, may want to keep Dinwiddie around not just as insurance should his teammates go down again but because of his talent and record for clutch play. Let the chips fall where they may next summer! The Nets roster is nothing if not deep, particularly at the guard and wing positions. Can he fit? Marks was asked. He deferred to his head coach.
“How does the fit work?” Marks asked rhetorically. “That’s where Steve comes into play. Steve has managed this before. He’s been the point guard on some really important teams with a lot of different personalities. So, that’s what we’re going to have to do over the course of this year is manage them and what’s best for our rosters and, hopefully, at the same time do what’s best for all of our players.”
That’s a nice sentiment, but Marks of course sets the roster, no doubt with Nash’s input. Roster building is the purview of the GM. How to use the roster is up to the head coach.
One can even see a rationale for a quick trade now that camp is upon us. Training camps open around the league on Tuesday. If a player is traded, he will be quarantined in isolation for three days (even if, like Dinwiddie, they have been exposed to COVID-19). Why waste time?
The Nets have built up quite a depth chart in the backcourt and on the wings, most recently trading for Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown on Draft Night and re-signing Tyler Johnson on Friday, a bit of a surprise. Does that mean the Nets are ready to move on?
“You can never have too much talent. Certainly, we don’t want to have an imbalanced roster. We’re going to have some good conversations with the coaching staff (about) how they see the style of play,” Marks said at that same mid-week media avail.
And reiterated that whatever he does, with some small move or a Harden trade, it will have to fit in with the team’s strategy long-term. No more Boston trades where the deal started reasonably small but mushroomed into an extravaganza the crippled the franchise.
“There needs to be a purpose behind it…whether it’s the ‘win-now’ perspective or something that helps us over the course of the next two or three years,” Logan quoted Marks as saying. “We’re weighing a variety of different options here. I couldn’t tell you if we’re done yet or not, but I don’t see us changing five or six guys on the roster.”
The question for fans in the short term is not so much will they move “five or six guys,” but will they move Dinwiddie.
- Is ever-reliable Spencer Dinwiddie odd man out with Nets? - Greg Logan - Newsday