In the middle of last season, Spencer Dinwiddie agreed to a three-year, $34 million contract extension with the Nets. Some thought the point guard should have waited until this summer, become a free agent, and chased a bigger payday, but for a guy who had never made more than $1.5 million the chance to lock in an eight-figure payday — with an organization he liked and trusted — seemed the smart move.
Then Dinwiddie went out and recruited the guy who will be in front of him on the depth chart.
All season long both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant had been linked to the Knicks, but that started to swing in recent months, and eventually the pair signed in Brooklyn with the Nets. Dinwiddie was the lead recruiter, reports Marc Stein at the New York Times.
Irving’s fondness for the Nets, which grew throughout a season of tension and disappointment with the Boston Celtics, is not merely an offshoot of his New Jersey childhood. It stems in part from a hard sell of the franchise to Irving by Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets reserve guard, after they shared a course at Harvard in September. Dinwiddie was Irving’s classmate in a Harvard Business School program for athletes, “Crossover Into Business,” that commenced last fall and continued remotely for a semester.
It was there that the two players from disparate talent tiers began building the bond that led to a regular dialogue and, by Sunday, brought Dinwiddie to the Nets’ practice facility [for the Irving signing announcement]…
Across the country, Dinwiddie was “at the forefront” of the monthslong push to persuade Irving to prioritize the Nets over the Knicks and to nudge Durant in the same direction, according to one person familiar with the Nets’ pursuit of Irving who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The NBA league office does not treat player-to-player conversations as tampering (so long as the player was not directed to do so by his team’s front office). Dinwiddie knows the game and didn’t need Nets GM Sean Marks telling him what to do.
Eventually, Durant’s close friend DeAndre Jordan was swayed by the arguments and started pushing for Brooklyn, too (and Jordan signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Nets, with Durant and Irving taking a little less to make room for it).
It’s never one thing that sways a big decision, the roster and culture the Nets had built up in recent years also played a significant role in Irving’s decision. As did growing up in New Jersey a Nets fan. But in this case, a backup point had a big influence on the outcome as well.