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New Nets offer optimism, gratitude following trade

“Hey, there’s more of you than there used to be.” That’s what Spencer Dinwiddie observed as he walked into a room full of reporters for he and Dorian Finney-Smith’s introductory press conference as Brooklyn Nets. Dinwiddie could have turned around and headed back into the locker room right then and there, leaving the mild-mannered Finney-Smith to field questions.

With one dry observation, Dinwiddie re-introduced the personality we had all come to know so well during his first, five-season go-round in Brooklyn, and gave a nod to all that has happened since he left just one-and-a-half long years ago. Does this tweet, or any of his public contract negotiation with the Nets that, again, happened less than two freaking years ago even register in your brain? Can you even call it water under the bridge if an earthquake swept away the bridge and a drought dried up the river?

“I don’t really have hard feelings. I mean, I was a little sad of course, because I would have wanted them to say that they liked me at that number then...I’ve moved around enough and been in the league long enough not to take things too personally,” said Dinwiddie, dispelling any potential for awkwardness.

It was otherwise a pleasant stroll down memory lane, full of playful interactions between the now-former-former Net and reporters, including Dinwiddie recounting his favorite on-court memories from his first stint in Brooklyn: “I mean I remember the game-winner against the Cavs...Then I had two game winners against the Pistons, which was great because I hated them at the time and kind of buried that hatchet. After that second game winner I was cool,” to which Finney-Smith sighed, “This guy.”

Dinwiddie and ‘Do’, as they call him (pronounced ‘doe’), really nailed what seems to be a very natural buddy-cop routine, the gregarious extrovert setting up soft-spoken one-liners for his partner. “I ain’t a man with big words like Spence, so don’t expect me to talk much,” said Finney-Smith, drawing a big laugh.

On the court, though, these two ex-Mavericks are looking to get down to business, and detailed how they expect to contribute to winning in the borough. If you’ve never watched Dorian Finney-Smith play, this answer may sound too cliché for your liking, but there’s no reason to think his Nets tenure won’t play out exactly as he predicted: “I plan on guarding the best player on the court, I take the challenge in that. I can guard multiple positions, I can play multiple positions. You ain’t gotta draw up a play for me, I’m gonna find ways to get involved and be aggressive. Just a winning mentality, I’m gonna bring that to the team.”

Spencer Dinwiddie backed that up just as you would expect: “Picks up full court, guard a big, shoots 40% from three in a normal year, rangy, athletic. I ain’t met a guy he can’t guard...outside of me,” which elicited an “appreciate that” out of Finney-Smith.

As for himself, Dinwiddie said that his role on this team would be “pretty self-explanatory,” envisioning himself being “ready to spot up and shoot with KD when he’s got the ball and being aggressive,” as well as being “aggressive in terms of making plays at the rim. And you know, guard too.”

Happy to be back

That was the overall tone from Dinwiddie, and it didn’t feel forced at all. He made it easy to forget about the departure of Kyrie Irving, if just for a moment, by not simply recounting his on-court success from his last Brooklyn stint, but his off-court triumphs too: the birth of his son, Elijah, and meeting friends like Brook Lopez and Joe Harris, who he says he cheers “harder for than anybody outside of probably like Jarrett Allen in the NBA. Coincidently I met him here too.”

Jacque Vaughn confirmed in his subsequent press conference that he was just as eager to have Dinwiddie back in the fold: “I think it’s great when you can come back to somewhere where you were. It says a lot about you, the impression you left when you were here, so I think it speaks volumes of who Spencer is as a human being, and definitely as a basketball player.”

Virginia connection

That’s what newest net Dorian Finney-Smith and Cam Thomas share, both hailing from the Chesapeake area of Southern Virginia. So this isn’t Do’s first encounter with the second-youngest player in NBA history to put up back-to-back 40-point games, despite an eight-year age gap.

“I remember Cam when we was about 10, just seeing him work out, know all the work he done put in,” said DFS, just before stating the obvious: “He’s always been a bucket. Just gotta get him to talk a little bit more. But he’s always been been a bucket.”

But Finney-Smith’s praise of Thomas, in the midst of a breakout, wasn't just confined to basketball: “As far as Cam, I know his family, I know what he’s about. Great dude, you know, still learning,” before adding, of course, “but he’s a bucket. I mean, he’s always been scoring the ball since he was a kid, so seeing him put up points like he is is not surprising. I know I can probably help him a little bit here and there on the defensive end and stuff like that.”

Brooklyn Nets fans, however, must wait to see Dinwiddie and Do suit up for their team for at least one more game. Neither will play on Tuesday evening vs. the Phoenix Suns, as Jacque Vaughn just thought it would be too soon: “I want to be fair to those guys. I want them to have success as soon as they hit the floor as a Net.”

Their next chance to make their Brooklyn debuts (well, not really, for Dinwiddie) will be on Thursday, February 9, against the Chicago Bulls.

Here’s video of the full press conference...