As far back as training camp, the Nets considered playing Kyrie Irving more off the ball with Caris LeVert taking on added playmaking duties. The Post reported last month that Spencer Dinwddie could fill that role upon Irving’s return.
Now ex-Net Paul Pierce has suggested as much on ESPN, saying they would be better off with Dinwiddie continuing in the lead guard role, freeing up Irving to be a scoring force.
“You got to play them both,” Pierce said. “And I really think Kyrie is a better player off the ball, because Dinwiddie’s been in the system for a year, they really had fun last year, they went to the playoffs, so they’re really used to him playing with that core group. Now Kyrie played his best basketball with Cleveland, with LeBron [James] being the primary ballhander.
“So I look at him, and Dinwiddie should be the guy who manages the game. Kyrie is a better scorer, so put him at the two-guard. I think it’d go better that way than with Kyrie being the primary ball handler, because he likes to go into his shake-and-bake. Guys are watching and not touching the ball, so I like him better at the 2 next to Dinwiddie.”
Coach Kenny Atkinson has expressed similar sentiments, admitting Dinwiddie’s familiarity with the system and his teammates gives him an edge.
“Kyrie’s still learning exactly what we want to do,” Atkinson said. “Spencer’s got a little more corporate knowledge. It’s going to take time for Kyrie to completely understand what we’re doing on both sides of the ball.“[With] Spencer playing so well, when Kyrie comes back what’s that look like? Is Spencer coming to start? ”
Dinwiddie is 11-6 as a starter, after the Nets had been 4-7 before Irving went down. Their net rating of minus-8.2 when he sits is the most drastic plummet on the team.
“Chemistry-wise, Dinwiddie needs to be the primary ball handler; then when Caris LeVert comes back he can be the sixth man. But I do believe you have to play those guys together with Dinwiddie as the primary ball handler,” said Pierce, with a warning about the alternative.
“What happens if you bring Kyrie back, you bring Dinwiddie off the bench and then they’re not having fun anymore and they start losing games? … That’s when the chitter-chatter comes to the locker room, when guys are talking behind each other’s backs and the whole chemistry gets thrown off.So we’ll see what happens. If that happens, it can be a long season for the Nets.”
Kevin Durant isn’t playing but that hasn’t stopped him from bringing some holiday cheer to the city. Thursday, he visited the Coalition for the Homeless and gave gifts to 40 kids whose families are homeless.
“I play here and I’m part of this community now,” Durant said at the event. “I want to do as much as I can to help.”