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Despite big new contracts kicking in, Nets ‘pieces’ will still have to sacrifice

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Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Spencer Dinwiddie probably said it best, a week and a half ago...

“There hasn’t been any explicit conversations,” he said about who on the Nets is getting the ball in crunch time. “But to think that you’re going to be trying to take the ball out of KD’s hands probably isn’t the smartest thing.”

As we’ve written (ad nauseum?), sacrifice will be required for the Nets to incorporate two of the game’s most versatile scorers. Last season, without KD for the whole year and Kyrie Irving for all but 20 games, Dinwiddie averaged 20.6, Caris LeVert 18.7 and Joe Harris 14.5 points per. Even Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot put up 15.3 in the “bubble.”

Reggie Miller, who knows something about being the big dawg on a contender. says the issue is less likely about Kev and Ky sharing the ball than it is incorporating the established scorers on the Nets roster. He fully expects the two to average close to 30 points a piece.

“The question is going to be, the LeVerts and the Dinwiddies, can they get those guys involved?” Miller said on a TNT Zoom call Wednesday. “I’m not so much worried about Kyrie and Durant, and how that union will be. How can they get Joe Harris involved?”

Harris, who just signed a four-year, $72 million deal, took only four shots in 19 minutes, missing his only two 3-pointers. That may very well be an aberration and a small sample, but Harris is moving to a complementary role. He understands and accepts it.

“At the end of the day, for us to win and have the most success, our offense is going to go through those two guys and then kind of go down from there,” he said. “That’s one of those things where my main assignment as an offensive player is just trying to get space for those guys. Getting down to the deep corners, cutting off of the ball, making sure that I’m occupying guys on the weak side and allowing them more space to facilitate.”

Harris also understands that he will often be wide open as opponents try to stop his two superstar teammates. The same is true of his teammates. Moreover, the Nets bolstered the offensive fire power of their bench this summer, whether it was adding Landry Shamet in a Draft Night trade or signing a resurgent Jeff Green or re-signing Tyler Johnson who can get hot fast. Putting LeVert in a Sixth Man role helps the second unit big time, of course. (He, too, will be starting a big new contract this year, his three-year, $52.5 million extension.)

“I think that’s where we’re really fortunate just to have the depth that we have,” Harris said. “You look at our second unit and a lot of those guys are arguably starters on a number of teams across this league. Whether it’s Caris, whoever it is, coming off of the bench . . . I don’t think you should look at it as a negative. In this league, you look across the best teams, they all have depth.

As Zach Lowe told Sarah Kustok the other day on his Lowe Post podcast, championship contenders are usually two superstars and a lot of depth or three superstars and no significant depth and the Nets are more the former the latter ... assuming no trade for James Harden.

Things may get tested early. The Nets have only a three-week training camp and two preseason games to get it right. Steve Nash has already said he expects the Nets will still be working things out well into the regular season. But he also said that it’s a good problem to have.