Brooklyn is finally beginning to get over its commitment issues. Maybe. After years of shying away from big or long-term contracts (unless it came with a future draft pick attached), the Nets on Thursday reportedly re-signed Spencer Dinwiddie to a three-year, $34 million extension with a player option on the third year. The news comes less than 24 hours after Dinwiddie scored a career-high 39 points in a 127–124 win over Philadelphia, including a 15-point third quarter, a performance that showcased the best of the 25-year-old’s game: hard drives to the basket, the ability to read his defender’s weaknesses, slick outside shooting, and his knack for creating opportunities for his teammates.
Dinwiddie is partially responsible for making the Nets a League Pass team, a collection of previously under-the-radar nobodies who combined to make a team worth watching. Seeing Dinwiddie grow alongside Caris LeVert (who is out with a serious leg injury) and big man Jarrett Allen has made Brooklyn compelling again for the first time in years. After the infamous, damning 2013 trade with Boston (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and D.J. White went to the Nets; three unprotected first-round picks, another pick swap, plus a handful of cap-space-evening players, went to the Celtics), Brooklyn spent its next five years repenting. The franchise has since embraced minimalism — minimal talent, minimal contracts, minimal obligations — in order to get back on track. This summer the Nets can make room for multiple maximum contracts. It’s an offseason they’ve been waiting years for, and it’s their first chance at serious redemption.
Dinwiddie is averaging a career high in points (16.9) while keeping Brooklyn’s bench afloat, making him the right commitment for the scarred Nets. The extension does also bring up questions about the team’s plan for starting point guard D’Angelo Russell. Brooklyn’s decision to not sign Russell to an extension this fall will make him a restricted free agent this coming summer. The team has locked in its backup without committing to its starter. Other point guards the Nets could recruit this free agency include Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, who are from New Jersey and New York, respectively, and Terry Rozier, who will be a restricted free agent.
The reasonable contract Dinwiddie agreed to keeps Brooklyn flexible. Before Thursday, the front office had just $38 million in total cap allocations for next season, and $7.6 million the season after that. Dinwiddie’s previous $1.6 million hold will become $10.6 million next season; if Russell and fellow restricted free agent Rondae-Hollis Jefferson are cut loose, the Nets could have $46 million in cap space, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Of course, there’s the huge caveat that Dinwiddie could very well not be on the payroll to start the 2019–20 season. As much as this move signals that the Nets are finally ready to settle down again, Dinwiddie has been at the center of multiple trade rumors all season, especially in the last few weeks as contending teams begin seeking reinforcements. However, because he re-signed, Dinwiddie now can’t be dealt until June 13. Brooklyn could, in theory, use the contract as another way to eventually trade up. But in this moment, at least, the Nets finally seem ready to focus on the now.