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What’s the market for Spencer Dinwiddie? It’s complicated ... but limited

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

Alex Schiffer recruited several of colleagues from The Athletic to get an idea of what the market is for Spencer Dinwiddie, unrestricted free agent ... and Nets prodigal.

What’s the bottom line? It’s complicated by a number of factors like the salary cap, luxury tax and who each of the seven teams profiled already has on the roster at point guard. The writers cover the Nets, Celtics, Mavericks, Pistons, Clippers, Knicks and Raptors. Surprisingly, the group didn’t include the Heat who’ve been rumored to be interested in the 28-year-old, and the Lakers who are on his list of preferred destinations.

The writers dismiss the prospect of Dinwiddie getting anywhere near the $25 million a year he suggested he’s worth. There’s also recurring concern about Dinwiddie’s knees. Still, they note it’s still early in the process and may depend on what other teams and players do over the next 10 days.

Schiffer concludes that “If [Dinwiddie] wants a bigger role and likely more money, the Nets are unlikely to satisfy Dinwiddie. If he wants to compete for a title but potentially not get full market value, and be a favorite for Sixth Man of the Year, then a reunion makes sense.”

However, Schiffer thinks there’s little likelihood he gets the money he wants.

Dinwiddie said he’d have a hard time turning down the Nets if they offered him a deal in the range of five years and $125 million, and it’s harder to see the Nets coming anywhere near that number. Brooklyn is all in for a title and could use Dinwiddie, but he would be returning from his second ACL tear (on different knees) to a smaller role and not the contract he was looking for.


Jared Weiss, who covers the Celtics for The Athletic, notes the Celtics could use a point guard and have a couple of attractive assets in Marcus Smart and Al Horford. Problem is that Weiss believes that Smart is too big of a price to pay for a player that’s had two ACL tears in his knees.

[C]onsidering Smart is a better off-ball shooter, is a significantly more impactful defender, has a year left on his deal and is dedicated to Boston, it’s hard to see how it’s worth giving him up for a player who’s a year older and coming off a major injury.


Tim Cato, beat writer for the Mavs, wonders how Luka Doncic, who plays the point in Dallas, and Dinwiddie would mesh. The Mavs do have some cap space which they saved to attract Bradley Beal or Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they’d have to make a few moves to get comfortable.

Cato argues that Dinwiddie doesn’t meet the goal the Mavs have set out for themselves, finding another star and notes there may very well be better point guard choices, depending on upcoming decisions by other free agents. He says Dinwiddie is likely to be less attractive than Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic and Mike Conley Jr.

Basically, the Mavericks want a proper second star next to Doncic, something Dinwiddie probably wouldn’t be. Dinwiddie’s market might be the determining factor: If he’s signed on a friendly enough deal the team is confident it could trade later, then there’s less harm in the idea.


James Edwards III, who covers the Pistons, points out that Detroit already has one top pick, Killian Hayes, the No. 7 pick in 2020, in their backcourt and will almost certainly draft Cade Cunningham, who plays the point, on Thursday. Edwards says Detroit “appears to be committed to making that partnership work.”

Obviously, Dinwiddie is better than those two young players right now, but Detroit is thinking about the long view. Just don’t see how adding Dinwiddie solidifies the Pistons anymore going forward at this point.


Law Murray is The Athletic’s Clippers beat. He discloses DInwiddie was at the Staples Center to watch the Suns eliminate the Clips. (Dinwiddie, of course, didn’t get to any Nets playoff games.) L.A. has neither cap space nor the draft picks to make much of a trade. And Kawhi Leonard, who has his own partial ACL tear, has yet to reveal whether he will opt in to his player option. In other words, the Clippers situation is a bit unsettled.

Adding to the uncertainty is whether the Clippers bring back Reggie Jackson who played well on a one-year vets’ minimum. Pat Beverly and Rajon Rondo are still under contract next season. Murray writes...

Would Dinwiddie take significantly less to join the Clippers coming off an injury, even to come back home? If he returned to form as a driver and playmaker, Dinwiddie could really help the Clippers offensively. But he wouldn’t help defensively, and there are likely too many moving parts for the two parties to connect on, especially with Dinwiddie coming off a lost season.

And a sign-and-trade would hard-cap the Clippers, meaning the Lakers couldn’t make a move that adds to the team’s payroll. No exceptions, no vets’ minimum.


Mike Vorkunov until recently covered the Knicks for The Athletic. As everyone knows, the Knicks have more cap space than any other NBA team, but how much would they commit to Dinwiddie? And the Knicks are hopeful of getting in on the Damian Lillard sweepstakes if he becomes available.

The Knicks have operated so far like a team that wants to preserve flexibility and keep its cap sheet light. Giving Dinwiddie would eat into that, though not necessarily prohibitively. There are real questions about his health though since, at 28, he has already torn his ACL twice. Perhaps a one-plus-one deal might be the better option for both sides on an elevated number next season. But Dinwiddie turned down $12.8 million next season.

What about a sign-and-trade between the two New York teams? Vorkunov notes out the last time that happened was 38 years ago.


Eric Koreen, a veteran Raptors beat who now reports for The Athletic, thinks that if Lowry goes elsewhere in free agency, that could open things up for Dinwiddie. Lowry’s departure could free up $24 million in cap space and a backcourt spot next to Fred Van Vleet but they’d have to make other moves, like dumping Chris Boucher, not a likely scenario.

If they choose to act as a cap-room team — again, this is largely dependent on what happens with Lowry — I think they’re more likely to use the money on a big than a guard...

Realistically, I’d say signing Dinwiddie would be something like Plan D or E rather than Plan B or C. It becomes more likely if Dinwiddie’s market doesn’t develop and there is a short-term deal that makes sense for both parties.

In other words, Toronto too is unlikely at anything other than short-term deal (which essentially he turned down when he opted out of his $12.3 million player option.


The Athletic’s reporters covering the Heat and Lakers weren’t included but there are similar issues with both of those teams. The Heat could get under the cap if they renounce Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala, who have more than $34 million in team options. But the Heat reportedly would rather go for Lowry or Conley. Also, they hold the Bird Rights to Dennis Schroeder who, like Dinwiddie, has talked about a $100 million contract.

In summary, the Lakers can only do a sign-and-trade if they are willing to accept being hard-capped. They also reportedly want to make a run at Chris Paul. Their limited assets on a mega-deal rather than paying big bucks for Dinwiddie. There is a way as Hoopshype notews on Saturday. However, it more illustrates how difficult it would be for the Lakers to do an S&T. The main pieces would be Dinwiddie and Kyle Kuzma but L.A. would have to make some serious moves like renouncing most of their free agents.

All that said, we have learned over the years that NBA general managers and capologists will find a way if they really want someone, using multi-team deals and creative contracts. But based on what The Athletic panel is saying, Dinwiddie’s market appears thin unless he wants to settle for far less than his original goal. Will that permit him and the Nets to make a face-saving deal at a lower number? Stay tune.