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Spencer Dinwiddie ... and the Brooklyn Nets ... are on the same page: it’s about sacrifice

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Put aside the controversy over media access and even the schedule. The big news Friday may have been sacrifice

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Spencer Dinwiddie made it clear. He’s here to make sacrifices.

“I said it before. I kind of envision myself as that Draymond (Green)––if we’re going to liken ourselves to Golden State and the special things they were able to do. That glue (guy), that multi-purpose guy. I’ve worn a lot of different roles for this team––off the bench, closer, point(-guard), off-the-ball, whatever it may be. That’s just kinda how I view myself. The multipurpose utility guy, help keep the guys together, try to make the sacrifice plays, and help the team win.”

But more importantly...

In response to a question about possibly looking for a bigger role on a different team to fatten his pockets, Dinwiddie exclaimed “I don’t know anybody who takes less than market value to stay on a team, to then want to be traded. That seems like bad business.”

(For reference, the “below market deal” he’s referring to was his three-year, $34 million extension he signed back in December of 2018. At the time, Dinwiddie tweeted “The journey is just beginning. I’m thankful that @brooklynnets believe in me enough to give me a home.”)

After months and months of trade rumors, Dinwiddie shut that question down with a grin on his face––in one clean sweep. He wants to continue to be here, in Brooklyn, competing for a championship, taking on whatever role his team asks of him. I’ll be honest, before Dinwiddie stepped onto the virtual podium... I really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, shoot, during one of his many Twitter gags, the guy fake-traded himself to the Chicago Bulls for crying out loud! Like, the Jim Boylen-era Bulls! Egad!

Instead, Dinwiddie said all the right things. He called Caris LeVert “the third star.” He detailed Brooklyn’s (in his words) “all hands on deck” mentality, arguing that “one player can’t do it on his own... two players can’t do it on their own.”

Oh, and he, well, stated the obvious––but an obvious that needed to be heard!

“Taking the ball out of KD’s hands probably isn’t the best idea.”

Folks, you’re looking at what we in the business call “a trend.” On Thursday, Caris LeVert––who by all accounts is lined up to be the third banana next to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant––told media that he “love(s) playing off the ball.” As a reminder, here’s his full quote on off-ball play:

“That hasn’t been something I’ve been asked to do at a large volume in the NBA honestly. When I was in college, I did it a lot. I did it very well too so that is something I am looking forward to not only showing people what I can do but just doing it. I haven’t been asked to do that since I’ve been in the NBA so I love playing off the ball. It’s fun for me. I can’t wait to do that this season and it’s going to be very beneficial for all of us.”

LeVert’s evolution as an off-ball player is key to Brooklyn’s success. In March, I mentioned it as one of the biggest question marks when projecting LeVert’s upside as a tertiary star option. For him to not only acknowledge that weakness, but actually revel in its improvement... well, that’s certainly a great sign. LeVert is aware of what it takes to make this thing work. That alone deserves praise.

Even further down the rotation, we saw buy-in from Brooklyn’s understudy options into very specific roles. Bruce Brown bragged he “brought a dog mentality.”

Tyler Johnson promised flexibility in lieu of what could be an active season of changes. “As far as role goes, I think it is going to change as the year goes on. All I’m waiting for is my opportunity, grab hold of it, and go from there.”

Even Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot described his eagerness to fill the gaps for his Nets when meeting with the media just before Dinwiddie: “I know I can help this team win. I think I’m pretty different from anyone else on this team. I can run, play defense, hit shots.”

I can’t stress this enough: guys buying into roles, especially this early in the game, is crucial. Just read up on some of the stories about the Clippers flying around this week. That team never got on the same page from the beginning, and my goodness did it embarrass them in the long-run. (I’m still thinking about the Clippers’ wives and girlfriends dancing on the sidelines before the infamous blown 3-1 lead. That’s tough.)

The Brooklyn Nets, on the other hand, are all on the same page.

For a team like Brooklyn, which had an established hierarchy before either of Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant came into town (similar to the pre-Kawhi Leonard and Paul George Clippers!), it speaks volumes that players like Dinwiddie and LeVert––both of whom have been described as stars and first-options in previous seasons––have expressed such fervent desire to work as ancillary options next to two all-world players.

But it also speaks to Brooklyn’s top-down leadership, which I wrote about yesterday. Clearly, Irving and Durant are doing something to create a culture in which no one is bigger than their roles, while ensuring cohesiveness and togetherness in chasing a collective goal––a championship. Maybe KD really was “looking forward to stepping into this position.” At this point in their journey, there is no jealousy, no competing egos at work, even will all of the trade rumors. Just connectedness, working together like the countless silken threads in a beautiful spiderweb.

On first sight, Brooklyn is working with a pretty unusual roster, stuffed full with guards, isolation scorers, a couple of rolling bigs, and very few defenders. Most will proclaim, “the Nets feel incomplete!” And at a glance, I wouldn’t disagree with them.

But didn’t we do this last year? Didn’t we say over and over again how “the Lakers lacked half-court scorers?” Didn’t we constantly tear down the construction of that roster? And look what happened: They came into training camp with a common objective, committed to a team-wide philosophy of defensive tenacity, cared for one another, and f**king won, in spite of all the doubters...

Is it crazy to assume we’re looking at the same thing here? A frictionless ball-club with a common goal in sight? A group of guys who know exactly what it takes to carefully place the pieces together in this odd-fitting puzzle? A collective gut-check to put worries to bed and selfishness aside? A bunch of dudes who just like each other, who click?