NBA Injury Report: Nets Guard Spencer Dinwiddie Could Come Back In Time For The Playoffs
Will Spencer Dinwiddie return to the court this season?
It has become a bit apparent that the Brooklyn Nets are still not closing the door on the possibility that Spencer Dinwiddie will return to their active line-up this season. Dinwiddie only played in three games for the Nets this season. It was during the Nets’ third game of the season against the Charlotte Hornets that Dinwiddie unfortunately suffered a Torn ACL injury, forcing him to sit out the year since then.
Dinwiddie, who is on his fifth year with the Nets, has grown into a borderline All-Star guard in the league. Even with the numerous injuries that the Nets have had with their stars in the past couple of years, Dinwiddie has undoubtedly held down the fort for them and did not only thrive in a starring position, but he also excelled in that role.
With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving returning to the court this season, it was expected that Dinwiddie would take the backseat and assume a main role off the bench. But Nets new head coach Steve Nash opted not to take him out of the starting line-up in an effort to put in a star backcourt tandem of Irving and Dinwiddie.
But when Dinwiddie went down with the major injury, it was automatically assumed that he would sit out the rest of the 2020-21 season. However, it has become apparent that there is still a faint light of hope that the excellent combo guard will return to the Nets’ line-up even before the more important games in the playoffs commence.
As per Chris Milholen of SB Nation’s Nets Daily, Nash hinted out that the team is still hoping that Dinwiddie will come back at some point of this current NBA season.
“Actually, I’m not sure of that. I think there is a time when he’s gonna come back to the team, but I don’t know where that is. I know he’s still right in the thick of his rehab. He’s very dedicated, doing all the work and is ahead of schedule on all that stuff, but I’m not sure when the date is, if it’s playoffs, before the playoffs. But I know there is the plan for him to come back and be around the guys when he gets the bulk of his rehab done.”
The Nets are currently tied with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference standings. They are sporting an excellent record of 36 wins against 17 defeats, and have won six of their last eight games. Durant has already returned from the hamstring injury that forced him to sit out several games, although James Harden, the superstar they acquired via a mid-season blockbuster trade, is now nursing his own hamstring injury.
Still, there is just no doubt that the Nets have what it takes to go all the way to the NBA Finals this season. They brought in two former All-Star frontcourt players in LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin via the buyout market. Their roster are also full of young quality role players like Bruce Brown, Landry Shamet, Nicolas Claxton and Tyler Johnson, all of which could contribute on both ends of the court whenever they are needed.
Add to that the fact that they have a couple of veterans like Jeff Green, Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan to steady the ship on the court and inside the locker room. In terms of roster depth and star power, it is true that this Nets squad are second to none. It just remains to be seen if they can build that much-needed chemistry on both ends of the floor.
So a potential Dinwiddie return would further unlock the scary potential that this powerhouse Nets squad has. He can make plays for his teammates and create shots for himself, two factors that makes him a unique point guard in today’s positionless game. It is also true that he was a coveted piece in trade talks before the trade deadline this season.
Dinwiddie, who is on his second year of the three-year, $34 million contract he signed with the Nets in 2019, can opt out of that deal this offseason and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. However, Seth Partnow of The Athletic emphasized that trading Dinwiddie before the deadline day was a tricky preposition, and that resulted in Dinwiddie ultimately staying put in Brooklyn. The fact that Dinwiddie can opt out of his current contract and join any team of his liking in the offseason could have forced other interested teams to become hesitant in pushing the green light button for a Dinwiddie trade.
On some level, it’s a game of chicken. If the team receiving Dinwiddie is treating his Bird rights as something of real value, deals like Marcus Morris Sr. to the Clippers or Harrison Barnes to the Kings remind us that notes have probably been scribbled and passed in the back of the classroom between acquiring team and agent. Which would, of course, be against the rules and thus would never happen. But, seriously, if this were the case, shouldn’t the Nets ask to be compensated accordingly by the team acquiring Dinwiddie on what is perceived to be a fair-value contract? To which the counter is, ‘OK, but then you’ll just lose him for nothing,’ and this goes back and forth, and we see who blinks first.
A further complication is that the teams which would value Dinwiddie’s Bird rights also would tend to be the teams that would value not making Brooklyn better, as those teams are in contention windows themselves. If the acquiring team is treating him as merely an expiring contract for matching salary purposes, they would presumably want something of value in return from Brooklyn. It’s hard to find a deal whereby that value would be merely in getting long-term money off the books for a player who also would help the Nets. I can’t see Memphis valuing cap space enough to want to move off of Dillon Brooks or De’Anthony Melton, for example.
But aside from the Dinwiddie situation, the Nets still have a lot of things to work on if they want to really make a loud noise in the playoffs. During their recent loss to a Los Angeles Lakers squad without their injured key cogs in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma, Nets head coach Steve Nash pointed out to the fact that his team did not come out aggressive in taking on their opposition.
Both Irving and Lakers scoring guard Dennis Schroder were thrown out of the game due to talking trash to each other. That left the Lakers without the top scorer in their injury-plagued unit, but the Nets were still not able to get the job done. The Nets still had Durant, Aldridge, Harris and Griffin playing in that contest.
As per Tom Dowd of the Brooklynnets.com, Nash said that they had to have a mindset of being more aggressive, especially during the early stages of a game. Nash also reiterated the fact that the Lakers were a bit more physical than his players, resulting to the very disappointing loss to the defending champs.
“I don’t think we have to be more physical than teams. We just have to match the effort and intensity. I don’t think we necessarily tried to match it. We kind of I felt like started the game like we’ll get into this at some point and win it instead of we’ve got to hit first and try to take this thing. That was a mindset. I thought we succumbed a little bit to their intensity and physicality and it’s a good lesson for us.
It wasn’t ideal. We would like to see us, like we have many times this year, respond and win games. Tonight just wasn’t our night in one respect. In another, you lose without James and without Ky, your two guys that are very difficult to keep in front. So it kind of took us out of some of our big weapons, but not only our weapons but we’re used to playing with them. We’re used to them knocking the first domino down, so to speak, and creating an advantage, so it was ultimately not only was it difficult without them, but it was also new in a lot of ways. I don’t want to make excuses, but at the same time, it’s a perfect storm. Tonight wasn’t our night, so tonight, I thought they were more physical than we were, and we also were playing a bunch of guys who hadn’t played much together at all when you add it up. So a bit of everything I would say, and like I said, it’s about us learning from it and what can we take forward from this experience.”
As for the Nets’ new former All-Star frontcourt players in Aldridge and Griffin, there is just no doubt that they are still in the process of meshing with their new teammates. In the five games that Aldridge has logged in for his new team, he is putting up numbers of 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 blocks per game.
Those are still good numbers, especially considering that he is only putting in 26.0 minutes per game for the Nets. Add to that the fact that he is not the focal point of the offense he is in anymore, an obvious difference from his previous stops with the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs.
Still, everyone knows that Aldridge can definitely help the Nets with all the experience and credentials that he has went through in his very productive career. The seven-time All-Star combo big man can score from almost anywhere on the court, and he gives the Nets a deadly post presence that they can rely on when the stakes get higher and the going gets even tougher in the playoffs.
Aldridge also knows that he has to take it upon himself when there are nights that the Nets find it very difficult to get their offense going. Aldridge said that he was passive during the team’s frustrating loss to the Lakers, and he knows that that cannot happen again.
“Just got to do a better job of trying to set the tone better. It starts with me. I started out kind of passive tonight and I think that was kind of contagious for everyone else. It was hard for me to get going tonight but no excuses. I definitely need to be better and I will be better. Definitely got to hit first and be more aggressive and tonight I was just way too passive and just out there. Just floating. But like I said I'm going to be better and I'm still getting my legs back. I haven't played this many games in a while. No excuses but, I'm going to take this on the chin and I'll be better.
Just being stagnant, not aggressive, not taking the fight to them. I just think, we were; I was passive. I was trying to hit the guy in the corner, I wasn’t trying to roll the score. You’re gonna have nights like this, and I definitely accept the challenge. As I've said, once before, this was on me, I have to do a better job of just trying to set the tone and definitely playing better defense. But tonight I was definitely way too laid back.”
After their recent loss to Talen Horton-Tucker and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Nets will embark on five road games in their next six assignments. That will start with a two-game road trip against Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Joel Embiid and the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers.
The Nets will momentarily return home to host Terry Rozier and the Charlotte Hornets, then go back to the road again to go up against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans, and Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors.