Spencer Dinwiddie: Rejoining Nets for playoffs is ‘realistic’

Spencer Dinwiddie has been in California working feverishly on his rehabilitation for a partially torn ACL. And this week the Nets guard said in no uncertain terms that a comeback in time for the playoffs is possible.

“Oh, that’s a tough one. Recovery’s going great,” Dinwiddie said, according to The Athletic. “The ramp-up to be able to play in a playoff atmosphere is realistic.”

Dinwiddie — who was a guest speaker at Collision, billed as North America’s fastest growing tech conference — added that conditioning is the main hurdle, and that he has returned to the court in the past couple weeks. Thursday on social media, Dinwiddie shared video of himself shooting 3-pointers.

“I’m very hesitant to comment on [Dinwiddie’s return] because my No. 1 goal is Spencer’s career, his long-term health,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said recently. “I don’t want to dampen any dreams or goals that he has.

“At the same time, my No. 1 goal for Spencer is more important than our team: It’s for him to get to 100 percent, his health, and to have a long and successful career after this injury. That’s my No. 1 goal.”

More and more, those are feeling like they’re no longer at cross purposes.

Spencer Dinwiddie
Corey Sipkin

It was widely assumed that a torn ACL — even a partially torn one — would end his season. Brooklyn was even granted a Disabled Player Exception, only given when the NBA anticipates a player won’t be able to return.

But the Nets reportedly rejected an offer of Kelly Oubre for him and held onto him past the trade deadline. Now there is an increased feeling among league sources that Dinwiddie could be back on the court for the Nets at some point.

“Well, I’ve talked to Spencer and our performance team has talked to him as well. He’s in great hands, rehabbing and progressing well in Los Angeles,” GM Sean Marks said. “We know the staff that he’s working there well. Again it goes back to me just saying I would never bet against Spencer Dinwiddie.

“That’s what we saw four years ago with him. He has a chip on his shoulder, he loves to prove people wrong, so who am I sit up here and say he’s not going to be able to do something? I think that’s only going to backfire.”

Over those four years Dinwiddie has become, alongside Joe Harris, the biggest success story of Brooklyn’s much-ballyhooed player development.

Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 and 6.8 assists last season, cut short by COVID-19 when he didn’t get to play during the restart in the Orlando bubble. He opened this season averaging a fairly modest 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 21.3 minutes, but his impact as a defensive-minded jack-of-all-trades was underrated.

The 6-foot-6 Dinwiddie often guarded the opponents’ top perimeter threat and gave the Nets a switchable guard with length. He was a plus-24 in the season-opening 125-99 rout of Golden State and a plus-16 in a 123-95 Christmas Day laugher in Boston, before going down in the third game of the year.

Now as his rehab nears the final stages and he’s gotten back out on the court, Dinwiddie is expected to fly back to Brooklyn and be around the Nets at some point.

“There is a time when he’s gonna come back to the team, but I don’t know when that is,” Nash said. “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.”

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