Point guard Spencer Dinwiddie began this season playing in the D-League with the Windy City Bulls, but on Friday night, he found himself making his second career NBA start for the Nets against the world champion Cavaliers. Dinwiddie became a starter in the span of just 12 games, but he can’t get comfortable because he knows the revolving door could deposit him on the street on Tuesday when non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season.
If they were going to waive Dinwiddie, who is on the books for $726,672 this season, the Nets had to do it by Saturday, though such a move would not be announced. Reflecting on his good fortune so far, Dinwiddie said the Nets’ injury situation created an opening for him.
“It’s not completely all me,” Dinwiddie said. “Jeremy [Lin] has been hurt. But just to be able to come here and have some type of impact obviously is reassuring to me, and there’s a big date coming up for my personal life. I mean, nobody wants to get all the way here and then not make it.”
Although Dinwiddie recorded three fouls in the first six minutes against the Cavs, he finished with seven points, five rebounds and two assists in the 17:46 he played. His overall field goal percentage is 51.1 percent, and he is averaging 5.5 points in an average of 15.6 minutes.
Lin remains out for an undetermined period with a left hamstring, suggesting Dinwiddie is secure, but he knows better than to put the cart in front of the horse. “Look, the way the league works, you can’t ever count chickens before they hatch,” Dinwiddie said.
“It’s like that with anything in this business. I mean their slogan — ‘Where amazing happens’ — that’s what this is. Anything can happen going into Tuesday. All I can do is try to go out there and put my best case on the floor and hopefully win games.”
The Nets (8-27) face Philadelphia (9-25) at noon Sunday at Barclays Center in a battle between the teams with the two worst records in the league. It’s anyone’s guess if coach Kenny Atkinson will stick with Dinwiddie as the starter over rookie Isaiah Whitehead, who came off the bench against the Cavs to record his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
But Atkinson recently made it clear there might be a place for Dinwiddie in the Nets’ development program. “One thing we have liked is his defense,” Atkinson said. “We like his length, his versatility. I think he’s helped our defense.”
The flashes of skill, athleticism and defense Dinwiddie has shown should be enough to keep him in a Nets uniform the rest of the season, especially since depth at point guard is critical given Lin’s uncertain status.
“That’s my guy,” Dinwiddie said of Lin. “I want him to be back and to be healthy as soon as he possibly can be. But during this condensed period of time, with him being out, I don’t see how it could hurt me.”