The Nets were scheduled to depart Tuesday for Orlando, where they will join the so-called “bubble” at Disney World for the restart of the NBA season later this month, but before they could board their 6:30 p.m. ET charter flight, second-leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie announced he would not accompany them after testing positive a second time for COVID-19.
About the time the Nets’ flight took off, another shoe dropped when ESPN reported that starting forward Taurean Prince also tested positive and has been ruled out of playing in Orlando because of the expanded time it would take for him to pass NBA protocols and get in playing shape.
Dinwiddie made his announcement via a midday Twitter post that read: “After another positive test yesterday and considering the symptoms, @BrooklynNets, team doctors and I have decided that it would be in the best interest for me and the team that I do not play in Orlando. I will be supporting the guys every step of the way! #AudienceOfOne.”
When the Nets began returning in late June to their practice facility in Brooklyn for voluntary workouts before they became mandatory on July 1, Dinwiddie was one of two to test positive for the virus, and he announced on Twitter that he also had symptoms. Veteran center DeAndre Jordan was the other Net to test positive, and he immediately opted out of playing in Orlando.
But Dinwiddie, who is averaging career-highs of 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game, went into quarantine in Brooklyn with the hope of recovering in time to play, as he stated on Twitter on June 29. On July 3, Dinwiddie posted a picture of a stationary bike and 60 pounds of dumbbells he was using for workouts when he could muster energy to get out of bed.
As recently as last Sunday, Dinwiddie expressed optimism for a return in another Twitter post that read: “Day 10 update: The sinus pressure headaches when I get up are starting to subside. But I was a lil too bullish on the bike. Got dizzy and felt weak smh. But if I can get a negative test (Monday) then they’re gonna get me back on the court Tuesday.”
That same day Dinwiddie also clarified that NBA protocols called only for a seven-day quarantine plus a negative test before heading to Orlando. Alas for Dinwiddie and for the Nets, he tested positive on Monday.
So, the Nets not only will be missing three players recovering from surgery, including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Nic Claxton, but also, they will be missing COVID-19 victims Dinwiddie, Jordan and Prince plus Wilson Chandler, who opted out of playing for family reasons.
The Nets are seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference only a half-game ahead of Orlando for the eighth and final playoff spot, but they have a six-game lead over ninth-place Washington, which will be missing injured leading scorer Bradley Beal. They will be allowed to replace Dinwiddie, Jordan, Prince and Wilson by signing other players to join them in Orlando.
According to an NBA source, it’s expected they will replace Chandler with Justin Anderson, who played for the G League Long Island Nets, but he has not yet been signed. Roster spots for Durant and Irving previously went to two-way players Chris Chiozza and Jeremiah Martin.
After reaching Orlando, the Nets must stay in quarantine for 36-48 hours, and they will undergo COVID-19 tests on Tuesday and Wednesday. Depending on when they receive test results, they could practice for the first time as early as Thursday.
Currently, they have 10 active players, and given their lack of size, they likely will add at least two big men. Chiozza is the likely replacement for Dinwiddie as starting point guard alongside Caris LeVert in the backcourt.