The NBA free-agent signing period opened at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, and within an hour, five top point guards reached contract agreements, leaving the spotlight in that market squarely on Nets free agent Spencer Dinwiddie, who reportedly met with the Wizards the moment negotiations opened.
It took until after midnight, but an NBA source confirmed to Newsday that Dinwiddie was in the process of finalizing a deal to join Washington and pair in the backcourt with All-Star Bradley Beal. Details of the deal were not immediately available because negotiations were ongoing after 1 a.m. Tuesday.
Shortly after the negotiating window opened Monday evening, Chris Paul of the Suns, Mike Conley of the Jazz and T.J. McConnell of the Pacers agreed to contract extensions with their current teams. Kyle Lowry moved from the Raptors to the Heat in a sign-and-trade and Lonzo Ball moved from the Pelicans to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade.
That left the Nets in a holding pattern to await the outcome of Dinwiddie’s talks with the Wizards to determine their role in a potential sign-and-trade.
According to an ESPN report Monday night, the Nets succeeded in re-signing free-agent center-forward Blake Griffin to a one-year deal but lost free-agent forward Jeff Green, who signed a two-year contract worth $10 million with the Nuggets. Key free-agent guard Bruce Brown also remains on the market. There also was a report the Nets might deal backup center DeAndre Jordan to the Thunder.
Teams can’t actually sign free agents until 12:01 p.m. ET Friday.
Dinwiddie missed all but three games last season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, but he averaged 20.6 points during the 2019-20 season and it would have been extremely costly for the Nets to retain him in a backup role behind starting guards Kyrie Irving and James Harden. ESPN NBA analyst Bobby Marks projected Dinwiddie is in line for a deal averaging $20 million per season.
Such a deal would have increased the Nets’ luxury-tax burden from $90 million to $150 million. Marks said the Nets would be better served to move Dinwiddie in a sign-and-trade that might net multiple veterans to fill out their roster.
During a news conference Monday morning, Nets general manager Sean Marks indicated owner Joe Tsai is prepared to pay an exorbitant luxury tax. "Yes, we’re married to the luxury tax," Sean Marks said. "We know where we are, we know where we’ve been heading for some time now, and that’s the commitment Joe Tsai has made.
"To have an owner like that that’s all in and we’re committed for this year and the following years. Regarding signing our own free agents, the fact of the matter is that they’ve played very well throughout this year, and credit to them . . . All we can do is see where the dust settles over the next four, five, six days and go from there."
When asked about signing Dinwiddie versus trading him, Sean Marks said, "That’s the quandary where we’re at. It’s an interesting dilemma . . . If we’re going to participate in a sign-and-trade, it’s really up to Spencer as to where he wants to play. He’s going to have to decide that."
Obviously, Dinwiddie made his decision, but the Nets figured to still face an enormous luxury tax as a result of any sign-and-trade deal. "How we spend that money and how much luxury tax we go into, you know, we’ve already got the commitment from Joe Tsai that we’re going for it, we’re in," Sean Marks said. "We’re not going to take shortcuts at this stage. At the end of the day, I’ve got to be responsible . . . in how we build the team, not only looking at the next few years but four, five, six, seven years down the line as well."