Late Tuesday night, Twitter dumped two pieces of news. The first from Woj, was that the Nets had reached an agreement with 6’4” combo guard Tyler Johnson. It seemed foretold: Johnson initially signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets back in 2016 only to have the Heat match.
The second piece, from Shams, was that fan favorite and super teammate Theo Pinson had been waived. Those who use calculators and spreadsheets might have dismissed the news. Pinson was always the most likely to be dumped if the Nets added a player for the Orlando “bubble.” But those who use their hearts and souls to measure a player ... they may have understood the logic of the move, but not the loss.
Here’s a couple of fan tributes...
Jeez. Where do I begin. To the man who made me a nets fan, sparked life into a mediocre franchise, made them a beacon of happiness in the league, thank you. You’ll forever be cherished in the hearts of nets fans. 1 one on the court 1 in my heart. #ThankYouTheo pic.twitter.com/l8dtsw1UTP— Theo Pinson’s Burner (@PrimePinson) June 24, 2020
And one from the owner...
I appreciate the spirit and energy you brought to every game. https://t.co/x7LOVks0r8— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) June 24, 2020
Despite primarily playing with the Nets G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, in his two seasons with Brooklyn, Pinson made his mark quickly and rose as a fan favorite. Not for his on-court play. When the spotlight shown on him. It was for his signature bench celebrations and dances. Not to mention the “Swim,” pulled out only for the best and the most.
His celebrations and dances quickly caught on to his teammates on the bench and as time went on, the whole bench was all in sync with Pinson.
As for his on the court play, Pinson played only 51 games during his time in Brooklyn. In those 51 games, he posted averages of 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 11.3 minutes per game, shooting only 21.4 percent from deep and 30.7 percent overall, way down there. But Pinson thrived on the G League hardwood with Long Island. It’s not an exaggeration to say he was the Long Island Nets first star.
Pinson played most of his rookie season in Uniondale. The former UNC Tarheel shined as one of the league’s best young guards earning him, along with teammate and former Nets two-way Alan Williams, G League All-Star honors and was selected Midseason All-NBA G League East Team. At the end of the season, Pinson was named to both the All-NBA G League Second Team and the NBA G League All-Rookie Team.
More importantly, he took Long Island to its first playoff appearance in franchise history all the way to the G League Finals. His most memorable moment, possibly of his entire Nets tenure, came when Long Island needed it most. With time running down, Pinson drilled a deep three off an inbound pass to send the Nets G League affiliate to the G League Finals.
D’Angelo Russell, Jared Dudley, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were sitting courtside and in fact, Dudley called Pinson’s buzzer beater before he had the ball.
The G League finals came down to Game 3 and in attendance for the title game was Roy Williams, Pinson’s college coach. Williams sat courtside to watch his former four-year guard and 2017 National Champion player. Ultimately, Long Island fell to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The Nets rewarded Pinson with a two-year deal, with the second year a team option
This past season, Pinson saw more playing time on the NBA hardwood but still split time in Uniondale. Pinson was first assigned to Long Island on November 1 and played only nine games for the Nets G League affiliate.
In January, while in Uniondale, Pinson discussed how his second season was not what he completely expected. Overall, Pinson admitted he would rather be with Brooklyn but saw Long Island as a way to get better.
“It’s been up and down,” Pinson said. “Just listening to the vets. It is not going to be high the whole season. It’s a long season. Just take everything and embrace it and I’m always telling myself that the Lord won’t put me in situations I couldn’t handle. I just try to remember that.”
“To be totally honest, I wanted to be with Brooklyn,” Pinson said. “At the same time, this is a way to get better. The same thing happened last year. I was a two-way guy. I played well here.”
In those nine games with Long Island, Pinson averaged 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in 31.8 minutes of play.
Like his relationship with Coach Williams, Pinson held a relationship with Shaun Fein, head coach of the Long Island Nets.
Before becoming the head coach of the Nets G League affiliate in September, Fein served as a Player Development Coordinator with the Nets organization. In that role, Fein was in charge of developing Pinson, along with Dzanan Musa and former two-way Alan Williams.
He was a favorite teammate of those who were more likely to be on the court then the bench, like when he, Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert dropped in on Rucker Park in Shanghai.
And last week, Pinson defended Kyrie Irving following a report revolved around talks in a Nets group chat.
On Wednesday, Pinson bid farewell to Brooklyn via instagram...
The waiving of Pinson brings to an unusual end to a short but fun era. From bringing dance moves, celebrations, and energy from the bench to serving as a professional in a uniform, Pinson helped create that culture the Nets have been highlighted for and are known for today.