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Spencer Dinwiddie won’t back down from his desire to return ... this season

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Brooklyn Nets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Spencer Dinwiddie broke his silence about his rehabilitation process on Saturday afternoon via Instagram, just five weeks since partially tearing his right ACL against the Hornets on December 27. In that time, his Brooklyn Nets have applied for and landed a Disabled Player Exception of up to $5.7 million, meaning the NBA believes that Din’s season is over.

Well, not so fast. Below is that aforementioned social media post, and it appears that Dinwiddie is well ahead of schedule, working on conditioning exercises that normally would occur 15 weeks into his type of rehab.

While Dinwiddie was in the midst of a quiet year for his standards –– just 6.7 points and three assists per game in three games –– Brooklyn has felt his loss at various points in the 2020-2021 season ... even after landing NBA superstar James Harden. His perimeter defense and ability to guard the opposing team’s best player, in particular, could be of vital necessity for a team that has struggled with smothering downhill creators (think, the Collin Sexton’s of the world).

It’s not like Dinwiddie hasn’t hinted at a return––or at the very least, an interest in one. Just one day after tearing his ACL, Dinwiddie posted a story of when he fully tore his ACL at Colorado University, which nearly ended his basketball career.

At the very end of the post, you’ll notice he mentions this...

Next question: Will I miss the road to a @brooklynnets 2021 championship?

My response: As we’ve seen before. Crazier things have happened

Prior to tip-off of Saturday’s ABC headliner between the Golden State Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets, head coach Steve Nash was asked about a potential return for Dinwiddie, a player he called “an unbelievable piece” during training camp.

“I share his optimism for him being back, playing as good he ever was.” Nash continued, “But I certainly don’t wanna put any undo pressure, any unrealistic expectations on him returning this season. My number one concern is long-term health, the ability to play and finish his career at a really high level. That, for me, is way more important than trying to rush him back for our own self-interest here.”

This isn’t the first time the Nets have played things on the more conservative side when it comes to an injury. Throughout last season, Brooklyn was as safe as safe can be with Kyrie Irving’s injured right shoulder, pushing his timeline back multiple times and keeping Irving out for all but 20 games. Even right now, Brooklyn has been very hesitant to throw second-year player Nicolas Claxton into the fold by not providing a timeline for when the fans can expect to see the exciting 21-year-old. Even with Kevin Durant, the Nets chose to keep the 32-year-old out of the Orlando ‘bubble’ after the global pandemic interrupted his rehab process.

Speaking of the devil, Nash compared Dinwiddie’s situation to Brooklyn’s superstar forward, KD, who has looked nothing short of spectacular after coming off a career-threatening Achilles injury.

“We all know that he’s a hard worker, he’s incredibly strong, and heals quickly,” said Nash of Spencer Dinwiddie. “But at the same time, you know, like the Kevin situation where he had those extra months to adapt to playing, if (Dinwiddie) were to come back this year, he wouldn’t have that. There’s always a balance to be struck. There’s always a measure to be taken. And the number one priority for me is that he has a great rest of his career and is healthy, and I hope that’s a byproduct of his rehab.”

Where that “rest of his career” occurs is a little murkier. Dinwiddie could test free agency this year as an unrestricted free agent. He has a player option. But the Nets do have his bird rights. Just this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on NBA Countdown that teams are monitoring the Dinwiddie situation in Brooklyn.

“So watch between now and the trade deadline, as I think teams reach out to the Nets about Dinwiddie. And that gives them another trade asset here as they look to improve this roster.”

(What would happen to the DPE if Dinwiddie came back? Nothing. The only way the Nets would lose it would be if they traded the 27-year-old before using it.)

Whenever, whenever his return happens, Spencer will be driving down open lanes, drawing contact, and launching stepback threes soon enough like the Dinwiddie of old. You can count on it. The question is when ... and where.