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Dinwiddie won’t join Nets in Orlando

Second positive COVID-19 test ends guard's season

July 8, 2020 John Torenli
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No one can say Spencer Dinwiddie took the safe way out, even though it may have been prudent to do so from the start.

The Brooklyn Nets’ leading scorer and assists man confirmed Tuesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time in just over a week, ending any hopes he had to reunite with his team in Orlando, Florida for the NBA restart later this month.

“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,” Dinwiddie tweeted Tuesday. “I will be supporting the guys every step of the way!”

Over the weekend, Dinwiddie, who originally told The Athletic on June 29 that he had tested positive for the potentially deadly virus, seemed determined to return to play the final eight games of the regular season and potentially the playoffs alongside his teammates.

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“Day 10 update: The sinus pressure headaches when I get up are starting to subside,” Dinwiddie tweeted Sunday as he continued to hope for a recovery from COVID-19, which shut the NBA and sports leagues around the globe down on March 10.

“But I was a lil too bullish on the bike 😅. Got dizzy and felt weak smh. But if I can get a negative test tomorrow (Monday) then they’re gonna get me back on court Tuesday,” he added.

Dinwiddie and Brooklyn center DeAndre Jordan announced their positive tests late last month, further decimating a Nets roster which will already be without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Wilson Chandler, all of whom opted out of the NBA’s 22-team restart plan, scheduled to begin on July 31.

Averaging team highs of 20.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game at the time of the league’s stoppage, Dinwiddie was expected to continue getting tested and working out at the team’s HSS Training Center in Sunset Park on Tuesday.

But symptoms of the virus would not cease, and the second positive test made it clear to all involved parties that it was best for Dinwiddie to stay away from the team during its training sessions in Orlando.

The Nets have been hit harder by coronavirus than any other NBA team to date.

Durant and three unidentified teammates had positive tests back in March, though all four have since made full recoveries from the virus.

Last week’s news that Dinwiddie and Jordan had also tested positive seemed to dampen hopes that the Nets could seriously compete in Orlando, or even field a team at all in the eight-game regular-season setup ahead of a potential postseason.

Durant and Irving, the high-priced superstar tandem Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks brought to Brooklyn last summer, will not be in Orlando because they are recovering from injuries.

Chandler cited health concerns as well as family reasons for not attending and Jordan dropped out after receiving news of his positive test.

Dinwiddie admitted last week that his return was iffy at best, but that didn’t deter him from giving it his best effort, even if he was ultimately denied the opportunity to help the Nets chase an NBA crown.

“What sustains me is the people we have in our organization and that starts from the very top in our ownership group and the amazing support that they’ve shown,” Marks said last week.

“Since the facility has been back open and I come in and see the people that come in and have sacrificed so much, not only in the past four months, but in the past four years and put the Nets and us as a priority over, to be quite frank, themselves in a lot of different ways. That sustains me.”

Dinwiddie’s determination to come back and play should at the very least inspire his fellow Nets, many of whom were expected to be supporting players on a cast led by Durant and Irving in Year One of the Nets’ plan to seriously compete for the franchise’s first-ever NBA title.

“Obviously, it is a very unusual situation for everyone,” veteran Brooklyn sharpshooter Joe Harris intimated. “Hopefully we never have to deal with something like this ever again. But you just have to make the most of the situation.

“Whether people want to look back and give it an asterisk or not, I don’t really know if that matters,” he added. “Obviously, we’re trying to go forward in a healthy way, a safe way. There’s a lot of unknowns even leading up to it, though, too. Who knows what happens when we’re actually all down there? Hopefully we can finish out the season.”

Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris won’t be taking the court together on July 31, when the Nets restart their season against the Orlando Magic. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The Nets, currently seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race, will be put to the test right away as their restart opener against the eighth-seeded Magic will put their playoff position in peril.

If Brooklyn falls into the eighth spot, it must remain more than four games ahead of ninth-seeded Washington to avert a two-game play-in qualifier against the Wizards for the final slot in the East.

But right now, July 31 is still well off in the distance for a team that is just hoping to pass all of the NBA’s safety protocols and figure out exactly who will take to the hardwood for that much-anticipated first game against the Magic.

“There is no way to be comfortable when you think about where you’re going to be, for the amount of time you’re going to be there and the restrictions that you have there,” Nets guard Garrett Temple said Sunday. “The question of us being comfortable; that will not be the case whatsoever.

“We will have to adapt. We will get tired of it. But in no way, shape or form will anyone actually be comfortable, whether it be on the court or off the court, during leisure time or not,” he added.

Though the Nets will not bear any resemblance to the team Marks constructed when they entered this season with the highest of expectations, they are committed to making it through the remainder of the campaign, and striving to be the very best they can.

Even if it is without the one player who risked all to join them in Orlando before being told it was impossible for him to do so.

“There’s an incredible opportunity for us that lies ahead and people realize that, but it’s coming in every day and seeing the care and empathy that these people put forward,” Marks noted.

“Ultimately, it’s our job, and if there’s any way we can do something here and use this platform and use this opportunity wisely from a player, from an organization, from a front office standpoint, we certainly will.”

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