The Boston Celtics were upended by the Brooklyn Nets yesterday primarily due to the play of Spencer Dinwiddie. What would it take to acquire the under-appreciated budding superstar?
Everybody is talking about former Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving after yesterday’s 112-107 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. But why aren’t we talking about Spencer Dinwiddie?
While Irving was seated in his Barclays Center padded folding chair, the former G-Leaguer-turned-quasi-All-Star led the Nets to their sixth win in the eight games since Irving went down due to a shoulder impingement. 32 points, 11 assists and five rebounds is a stat-line that would be standout for any player in the NBA–let alone the Boston Celtics roster.
And by the way, doing it against a Celtics defense that ranks fourth in points per game allowed, makes the achievement all the more laudable. Quite frankly, it makes the Houdini want Dinwiddie in green and white.
Spencer Dinwiddie could contribute to the Boston Celtics in a multitude of ways. He’d be an immediate upgrade to Brad Wanamaker and Carsen Edwards for the second unit, but honestly, Dinwiddie deserves better. He deserves to be a starter, which he won’t get a chance to do in a Brooklyn lineup that will require Irving ceding the ball to the high-usage Dinwiddie (just a shade under 30% usage rate).
Kenny Atkinson has deployed Dinwiddie as an emergency starter in year’s past, and he has always seen positive results. In 2016-17–back when Dinwiddie had last played for the Windy City Bulls–Atkinson threw the former second-rounder into the fire and found him outplaying Isaiah Whitehead. The following season, after Jeremy Lin went down in a season-ending heap in the Nets’ second game of the season, Dinwiddie was thrust into the spotlight again, particularly during stretches D’Angelo Russell missed games due to injury.
The point I am trying to make here, is that Dinwiddie has put in the time and the production to earn starting duties no matter who shares the court with him. Unfortunately, Irving–and eventually Kevin Durant–will be taking the ball out of his hands when they return from injury.
No matter how hard Dinwiddie has worked and how much he has put in to the Brooklyn Nets franchise, he will never get what he deserves in terms of a starting role. At just $11 million a year for the next three years, he is one of the most valued assets in the entire NBA (perhaps he and Kemba Walker could bond over that). Who knows how high Sean Marks even values his contract. He has already proved willing to shun loyalty and development when he ditched the culture and disregarded D’Angelo Russell at the beginning of free agency this past off-season.
If you’re Danny Ainge, perhaps you consider dangling the Memphis Grizzlies 2020 draft pick to acquire a point guard who could immediately step in and be the starter on 2/3 of the teams in the league. Quite frankly, his fit next to Walker–who has proven to be able to defer to his teammates swimmingly in Boston–would be Damian Lillard-CJ McCullom-esque.
His timeline also fits nicely with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum as a 26-year-old 2014 draft pick. Dinwiddie’s first true season in the league was Brown’s rookie year, but he brings more experience as a journeyman and a veteran, relative to a 21-year-old Tatum at least.
Brooklyn trading Dinwiddie at all would have to result in a pretty catastrophic fall from grace for a team currently positioned to nab the #7 seed. That said, if Marks goes into asset salvaging mode, looking position himself to lay the groundwork for Durant’s arrival, he could use Dinwiddie as a means to offload bad salary (like the three years and $30 million left on DeAndre Jordan’s deal) and configure a deal around acquiring an expiring salary like Gordon Hayward’s.
Remember Boston Celtics fans: Hayward is likely looking for a long-term deal at a much higher salary number than what he is currently making. Someone (like tomorrow’s opponent, the depressing New York Knicks) will offer him that. If he doesn’t seek that this off-season, that means he will still be injury prone.
Offloading Hayward and at least the Memphis pick to acquire Dinwiddie and absorb Jordan (plus more filler) would give the Boston Celtics a do-it-all guard who can be another piece of a championship puzzle while also filling the hole at center is a win-win.
After all, Boston has good luck negotiating with Brooklyn. The Celtics will hopefully get a chance to show Dinwiddie what it’s like to thrive without being in Irving’s shadow. It will cost a fortune to do that, however.