Looking back, Spencer Dinwiddie admits he had to “really re-evaluate things” in the month after he was cut by Chicago and waited to report to the Windy City Bulls of the G League a little more than two years ago. The player the Nets signed on Dec. 8, 2016, arrived with a chip on his shoulder and turned into the hardest worker in the Nets’ performance program.
Dinwiddie reaped the rewards of his efforts and the Nets gained a valuable building block when he signed a three-year extension worth $34.3 million Thursday night. After putting pen to paper, Dinwiddie called his father in Los Angeles.
“That was pretty cool,” Dinwiddie said before recording 27 points and six assists in the Nets’ 125-118 victory over the Wizards on Friday night at Barclays Center. “My dad is not a real emotional dude. He’s kind of like me. But he said he had one little baby tear that came out. I was like, ‘Man, it’s serious if you got the baby tear.’ ”
Dinwiddie’s contract starts in the 2019-20 season and includes a player option in the third year, but he said it won’t change him as a person or player. “I can’t stress enough I’m thankful to be able to retire my parents,” he said. “That is the biggest thing monetarily. Other than that, we’re not where we want to be. We’re trying to make the playoffs, trying to win championships in the future. That’s what I signed on to be a part of.”
Dinwiddie likely could have made more by passing up the extension and becoming a free agent next July. The fact that he chose to remain with the Nets was significant to general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson.
“I give Spencer a lot of credit,” Marks said. “For him to say, ‘Hey, look, I don’t want to hit free agency. I want to be part of what everybody is building in Brooklyn.’ When players like Spencer and Joe [Harris] in the summer are willing to come here and potentially or hypothetically leave money on the table and say, ‘I’m going to develop myself with the Nets,’ I think that speaks pretty highly of the character of those guys.”
Dinwiddie, 25, could have signed for four years but chose the shorter term with a player option for the opportunity to become a free agent in his prime. “It showed Spencer, with that chip on his shoulder, saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to bet on myself,’ ” Marks said. “That’s one thing we really love about him.”
Dinwiddie made a leap last season when he started 58 games, averaged 12.6 points and was a Most Improved Player finalist. He adjusted to coming off the bench this season and has jumped his scoring average to 16.9 points to rank as a candidate for the Sixth Man award.
“We want more,” Atkinson said. “I think he wants more. I think the potential . . . there’s no limit on it because of how athletic he is, how big he is and how young he still is. He’s got all the tools. As his maturity and ability to read the game improve, he’s just going to keep going up.”