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A Spencer Dinwiddie return: That’s his plan but is it the Nets?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

In the latest reporting on a possible Spencer Dinwiddie return, Kristian Winfield writes Saturday that the Nets guard, out since December with a torn ACL in his right knee, wants to return for the NBA Finals ... assuming the Nets get that far.

If the Nets reach the NBA Finals, Spencer Dinwiddie is determined to play a role.

After more than six months on the sidelines due to an ACL injury, Dinwiddie is eyeing a return to play if the Nets make it to the Finals, the Daily News has learned. A source close to the Nets’ combo guard also says after spending most of the regular season rehabbing in Los Angeles, Dinwiddie is planning to return to the team “sooner than later.”

“He’s going to be in Brooklyn to support his team,” the source said. “He definitely is.”

The NBA Finals begin July 8.

Although he hasn’t posted on Instagram in a recent weeks, Dinwiddie has chronicled his rehab and now basketball workouts as he tries to return from his second ACL injury in seven years. He tore his ACL and meniscus in his left knee while playing at Colorado. The 2014 injury was far more severe than the current injury.

Over the course of the last six months, Dinwiddie has been unreservedly optimistic about a return to Brooklyn in post-season. The Nets, however, have been more skeptical. Publicly and privately, team officials have said that the injury is serious and that his well-being is their biggest concern.

As Winfield reports, Steve Nash said on June 6 that he hadn’t talked with Dinwiddie about returning to the team, and on May 4, Nash argued against the likelihood of a return to play in the post-season.

“I don’t think so. We haven’t seen him since the turn of the year almost,” Nash said. “It’s very difficult to, one, expose him to full NBA playoff basketball with the type of injury he has. We want to look out for his long-term health, first and foremost. And second of all, adapting back to the team environment. All those things together, it seems like it’s probably very unlikely” Nash said then.

Complicating matters is that Dinwiddie has a $12.3 million player option for 2021-22 which he must exercise by the end of July. With some believing his market could be more like $80 million over four years, it would seem like a big risk for him to return. Literally one false step and he might be out of luck. Dinwiddie is viewed as a top free agent after averaging 21 points and seven assists in 2019-20.

Beyond concerns for his health, the Nets may have other rationales for not wanting Dinwiddie to take the risk.

The 28-year-old could very well be the Nets biggest trade asset. Brooklyn could sign and trade him to another team and get something in return. If he gets hurt or doesn’t perform up to his old standards, his value as a trade piece would diminish. The Nets also seem quite comfortable with their current guard rotation, even with James Harden hurt.

Bottom Line: The upside benefit a limited return by Dinwiddie would seem to be greater than the downside risk of injury, both for him and the team.

A return to the bench, on the other hand, would certainly be welcomed by his teammates ... although many of those on the Brooklyn roster when he went down are no longer with the club.