With a flurry of offseason activity set to begin shortly, it's fair to wonder whether Spencer Dinwiddie has already played his last game as a Brooklyn Net.
In the last few days, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Dinwiddie could be available in the right deal, while SNY's Ian Begley reported multiple Western Conference contenders are interested in acquiring the 27-year-old point guard (No. 26 has a house in San Antonio, and hails from Los Angeles, for what it's worth).
Dinwiddie, who is currently representing himself, has been canvassing the league with an eye on solidifying his future – which very well could be elsewhere. He's going into the final year of his deal, and will make $11.5 million in 2020-21. He also has a $12.3 million player option for 2021-22.
Dinwiddie will be very motivated heading into his contract year, but shots and minutes could be hard to come by in Brooklyn, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both returning from injuries. The irony, of course, is that Dinwiddie helped recruit Irving to Brooklyn. As a result, his role will be diminished with No. 11 coming back into the lineup.
Caris LeVert, who further elevated his game in the bubble, has proven he can handle backup point guard duty as necessary.
It's well-documented by now that Dinwiddie (20.6 ppg, 6.8 apg) resurrected his career with the Nets, transforming from a second-round pick and G-League player into a borderline All-Star under since fired coach Kenny Atkinson. Essentially, he's the face of Brooklyn's transformation as a franchise. The Nets don't get the call saying “Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan all want to join your team” if Dinwiddie – alongside D'Angelo Russell — doesn't help guide an underdog roster to the playoffs in 2018-19. They also wouldn't have qualified for the postseason in 2019-20 without him, either.
Diwniddie always did whatever was asked of him. And eventually, he'll be due a well-deserved, significant raise if he keeps producing the way he has. Fred VanVleet, who has had a similar pockmarked path to Dinwiddie, is about to cash in as a free agent, and could provide a strong template — perhaps four years, $80 million or so — for Dinwiddie to shoot for.
Dinwiddie could be used in a package for a third star (Bradley Beal? Jrue Holiday? James Harden?) or perhaps a power forward upgrade. Former GM Ryan McDonagh recently suggested a sign-and-trade deal with the Clippers that would send Dinwiddie to LA for Marcus Morris-plus. A similar possibility could be a deal with the Lakers that involves Dinwiddie and LA's Kyle Kuzma. The Mavericks are also interested in Dinwiddie, according to The Ringer.
The Nets also could end up keeping Dinwiddie. He would have immense value given Irving's injury history (depth at the position will be important, and could perhaps be addressed during the draft). They could always revisit discussions on an extension or trade at a later date.
But that seems less likely given Brooklyn is already locked into max deals for both Durant ($39.1 million next season) and Irving ($33 million), while multi-year extensions already signed by Taurean Prince ($13.9 million) and LeVert ($16.2 million) begin in 2020-21. The Nets also want to re-sign Joe Harris in a deal that could average at least $12 million annually. Plus, Jarrett Allen is in the final year of his rookie deal and will eventually warrant his own extension if he's not dealt in the trade package for a third star. ESPN's Bobby Marks said Allen is looking for Clint Capella-type money (five years, $90 million).
So it just seems like Spencer Dinwiddie is going to get his money elsewhere.
Even so, his contributions to the franchise cannot be minimized. If he shows up to Barclays Center in another uniform, he deserves a standing ovation – whenever the pandemic allows – as well as a tribute video. The fanbase came to adore him because he was an underdog – much like the team itself. He's also been outspoken on everything from Bitcoin to the CBA to the Knicks. But at this point, it just feels like it would be a surprise if he's still on the roster come 2020-21.
“I had the most fun years of my career playing for the Nets,” Dinwiddie tweeted a few days ago. “Outside of course when my dad used to coach me before middle school.”