The NBA trade deadline is approaching on March 25. For teams with championship aspirations like the Brooklyn Nets, what happens between now and then could loom large.
And while it may seem like the Nets don’t have a lot of assets to dangle as trade bait in light of their mega four-team deal that landed them James Harden in January, one player could be a useful commodity in helping the win-now Nets improve their title chances.
Spencer Dinwidde on the Trade Block
Spencer Dinwiddie, the talented Nets guard who suffered a partially torn ACL just three games into the season and was subsequently ruled out for the remainder of the year, is on the trade block, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.
— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) February 26, 2021
“The Nets are shopping Spencer Dinwiddie,” Spears said on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Thursday. “Despite his injury, he could be a valuable piece for a team in the future.”
The 27-year-old averaged 20.6 points, 6.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 64 games for the Nets last season. Dinwidde, who regularly posts updates on social media about his recovery process, appears to be ahead of schedule as he battles back from his knee surgery. He hasn’t ruled himself out for a comeback later this season.
Look at Spence's last 4 IG posts, he's on that comeback grind pic.twitter.com/SSpY1bwYt2
— Talkin’ Nets (@TalkinNets) February 25, 2021
Meanwhile, the Nets were granted a $5.7 million disabled player exception to compensate for the loss of Spencer, which they have until April 19 to use. They can use the exception to sign, trade or claim off waivers any player making less than $5.7 million, but that player must be on an expiring or one-year contract.
The DPE will extinguish if Dinwiddie is traded between now and the March 25 deadline — which is looking like an increasing possibility.
With regard to Dinwiddie, despite being in the last year of his contract (he has a player option in 2021-22) and out for the season, the guard has value because the acquiring team would retain his Bird rights, allowing it to exceed the cap to re-sign him as a free agent.
With 73% of the teams projected not to have cap space this summer, Brooklyn could also hold on to him past the trade deadline and explore sign-and-trade options in the offseason.
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Who Could the Nets Target?
There’s a certain player profile the Nets are likely eyeing ahead of the trade deadline: a forward/center who can protect the paint, rebound and, of course, play solid defensive. They’ve been missing that type of interior presence since dealing Jarrett Allen to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the Harden deal. Allen is averaging 14.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 20 games since joining the Cavs.
For the Nets, Marks listed Khem Birch (Orlando), JaVale McGee (Cleveland), Ed Davis (Minnesota), Mike Muscala (Oklahoma City) and Hassan Whiteside (Sacramento) as names to keep an eye on as the trade deadline looms.
Still, it’s important to keep in my mind that this year’s deadline could be less active than in years past. “The selling and buying market could be dormant because the play-in tournament adds four postseason teams who would otherwise be sellers,” Marks wrote. “Additionally many contenders lack draft assets to send out in a trade because of moves they’ve made in recent years.”