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Sprung: Spencer Dinwiddie hopes to return to play in June, wants to remain a Net

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

In an exclusive interview with Shlomo Sprung of Forbes Sports Money, Spencer Dinwiddie spoke at length about his relationship with the Nets, saying he wants to remain with the team even after he opts out of his contract and for the first time indicated when he thinks he can return to play: late June, when the Nets are hopefully entering the Eastern Conference Finals.

The interview was extensive and touched on Dinwiddie’s continuing interest in crypto currency as well as his recovery from the partially torn ACL that forced him to undergo surgery in early January and a long rehab, most of it at Phenom Sports Performance outside Los Angeles where he grew up and has a home.

Just yesterday, Dinwiddie again updated his progress on his Instagram page, where he regulary updates his nearly 300,000 followers on where he’s at.

Three days ago, he posted that he had received “some great news,” but didn’t elaborate.

Throughout the interview with Sprung, Dinwiddie offered praise for the Nets’ medical staff, performance team and front office. He noted that despite the 3,000-mile distance between Brooklyn and L.A., he is following the rehab regimen laid out by Dr. Riley J. Williams III, the team’s medical director and the HSS surgeon who repaired the tear.

“It’s been great coordination all the way around,” Dinwiddie said. “And as everybody knows, Brooklyn has world class type of therapy and recovery. To have them guide the process, while also being able to be in the position to work every day in large volumes and not being hampered by travel has been a blessing. And I’m so thankful that they worked with me on this to try to give me the best health and shape possible.”

As he has noted repeatedly on social media, Dinwiddie told Sprung, “I’ve had one of the more successful ACL recoveries in history.”

Dinwiddie said he begins his rehab at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays which he said has helped him cut the normal recovery time for a torn ACL, normally 8 to 12 months, to less than six. Steve Nash has indeed said that Dinwiddie is well ahead of schedule.

However, the 28-year-old is now facing a number of decisions about his basketball future starting with when he can first return to Brooklyn for the final stages of his rehab and refamiliarizing himself with the team.

Sprung reported that Dinwiddie hopes he can be cleared for basketball activities over the next several weeks, then ramp-up his conditioning so he can be ready to help the Nets this season. At first, he deferred on specifics but when Sprung pressed, he offered a timeline.

“I know Brooklyn and Sean definitely wouldn’t want me giving out anything official,” he said.

But unofficially? Sprung asked.

“I want to return for the playoffs.”

Specifically, he said he hoped he’d be ready by late June. That would be just in time for the Eastern Conference Finals, which assumes the Nets would get through the first two rounds. The conference finals are expected to begin June 21.

“If you could be the fastest ACL recovery in history at five months, that puts you at June and gives you several weeks to get in shape,” he said. “That’s just me throwing something at the wall.”

Whenever the season ends, however, will be crunchtime for him and the Nets. Dinwiddie has a $12.3 million player option that he admits he will not exercise, making him a free agent. Dinwiddie said that he’d like to remain with the Nets but also noted that he wants to be the starting point guard on a team with the requisite big contract. That option isn’t available with the Nets. Not with James Harden.

“I’m gonna be more than healthy by the time free agency starts, so just from a dollars perspective you kind of have to,” Dinwiddie said. “$12 million isn’t market value for a starting point guard. It’s probably about half, 20-25. So obviously it’s pretty concrete that I’m gonna opt out.”

Dinwiddie, who averaged 21 points and seven assists last season before the pandemic hit, thinks he could command a deal similar to those given Fred Van Vleet and Malcolm Brogdon.

Still, if things can somehow be worked out, he’d like to stay with Brooklyn.

“If Brooklyn wants to use my Bird Rights and sign me, I’d be thankful to be back and be able to go and try to win, hopefully, a second championship,” he told Sprung, referring to the Nets’ ability to go over the salary cap to re-sign him. “And if not, then as an unrestricted free agent you can kinda choose where you wanna go. It’s an interesting situation to be in...

“We’ll see what happens when it’s actually time to negotiate.”

In fact, Dinwiddie said he and Marks talk often including in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. While Marc Stein reported that the Nets offered Dinwiddie to the Warriors for Kelly Oubre, Dinwiddie has said it was the reverse and that it was the Nets who weren’t interested.

“Sean does a great job of communicating. And I understood weighing the options was about winning a championship this year,” he said. “I didn’t take it in a bad way because if you feel like you need help now, and you’re not sure I’m gonna be able to help and your goal is to win a championship, you have to do what’s best for the team.

“Obviously I think as they realized I was gonna be healthy and potentially could play this year, they decided to keep me because they felt like the offers that were on the table probably lined up to a hurt Spencer, but didn’t line up to healthy Spencer.”

The Nets have another option, of course, signing and trading Dinwiddie for a big return, maybe a first round pick to give them more flexibility in the Draft. That’s how they worked the Kevin Durant signing. The Warriors traded KD to the Nets for a re-signed D’Angelo Russell, a first round pick that was so heavily protected it was never used, and a second rounder in 2025. In that kind of scenario, Brooklyn would also wind up with a big player exception.

In the meantime, Dinwiddie continues to stay in touch with players like Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green as well as assistant coach Adam Harrington ... and work on Calaxy, short for Creators Galaxy, a social media app he co-founded that will bring together those interested in dealing crypto currency and the emergence of block chain technology. Ever the optimist, Dinwiddie told Sprung that he believes it will ultimately reach a billion dollar valuation.

As Sean Marks has said, it’s never smart to bet against Spencer Dinwiddie