Spencer Dinwiddie officiallywith the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, so he will spend the rest of the season with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in his hometown rather than spending it with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in a more familiar basketball environment. Dinwiddie, who played 94 combined regular-season and playoff games for the Dallas Mavericks from the 2022 trade deadline until a couple of days prior to the 2023 deadline, was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Toronto Raptors, who immediately waived him.
Dinwiddie has changed teams in February for three straight seasons, but, this time, was able to choose his destination. On Monday, after his first practice as a Laker, he told reporters in Los Angeles that he thought this “new situation” would be better for him than returning to Dallas, via the Orange County Register‘s Khobi Price.
“It was like a five-and-a-half hour flight, and I spent most of that flight talking to my parents, who were on the plane with me, [and] one of my friends,” Dinwiddie recalled. “So we were working through all the different pieces, we were like, ‘OK, if we get there and the vibe seems cool and …’ — obviously, got to talk to [D’Angelo Russell], got to talk to Taurean [Prince], got to talk to [Christian] Wood, people that I’ve played with, Rui [Hachimura]. And Rui’s excitement to see me, that felt good. You know, just things of that nature ’cause, obviously, this is a new situation.”
The Mavericks might have been more comfortable for Dinwiddie, since it was only about a year ago that he was playing for their coach in their system with many of their players. But comfort is not necessarily what he was looking for, as he explained with a metaphor.
“I’ll give y’all something funny that I told my people because I’m fairly candid,” Dinwiddie said. “The two situations kinda felt like this, right? Let’s say you were a kid and you got your ass whooped by the bully. Dallas would’ve been like your mama being like, ‘It’s OK, baby. Don’t worry about it.’ Lakers are like your dad: ‘Nah, you better go out there and fight till you win.’ You feel me? And I just felt like that was what I needed at the time. And I’m a big believer in kind of doing what you need to do at whatever time it is, and so that’s how I felt about it.”
Wood, a former teammate from Dinwiddie’s Dallas days, recently posted an Instagram story saying, “My recruitment worked,” and added that he should be a general manager. According to Dinwiddie, though, James played a bigger role.
“How the hell are we gonna give C-Wood the credit,” Dinwiddie said, laughing, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “Bro, what are we doing? Look, C-Wood was impactful; I’m giving the credit to Bron.”
One other important factor to consider: the Mavericks could only offer Dinwiddie a pro-rated minimum contract. Los Angeles, however, was able to offer what remained of its midlevel exception (about $1.5 million) to Dinwiddie.
Dinwiddie’s role and usage have changed both between and within seasons over the past few years. He hasn’t come off the bench since the 2022 playoffs, but the Lakers’ starting point guard (Russell, Dinwiddie’s former teammate from his first go-round in Brooklyn) has been on a hot streak for a while and, if the coaching staff decides to bench their starting shooting guard (Austin Reaves) again, it could lead to a full-on mutiny. Coach Darvin Ham told reporters that Los Angeles will look at lineups that feature Russell, Reaves and Dinwiddie.
“Get downhill, provide rim pressure,” Dinwiddie said when asked about his role with the Lakres, via the Orange County Register. “Point-of-attack defense, also. Wing defense, depending upon the lineups. Switchability there. Just come in, be aggressive, set a tone, play with high IQ. Remember, in this situation, it’s about like plugging in more so than like dominating, per se. So that’s the mentality.”
The Lakers are 28-26 and are ninth in the Western Conference. Two-thirds of the way through the season, they have the No. 14 offense in the NBA and the No. 20 defense. Despite the mediocre results, Dinwiddie believes in their ceiling.
“Essentially you’re seeing a team that, when everything is on the line, they can rise to a level that no other team can get to,” he said, via ClutchPoints’ Michael Corvo. “Obviously they won the In-Season Tournament, have played big-time basketball the past several years. Obviously, sometimes it’s hard to maintain that throughout a whole season, but, at the end of the day, they know how to win. That’s what you know. Every night, they’re going to get somebody’s best shot just because of the name that’s on the front of the uniform, and then obviously you have arguably the greatest player of all-time on the floor as well, so then a lot of people are going to give him personally their best shot, as well.”
If he’s right about the Lakers’ upside, he could receive the NBA’s smallest and silliest bonus. When he was signed-and-traded to the Washington Wizards in the 2021 offseason, the deal included a $1 incentive for winning the NBA championship. The same incentive is in his new contract.
“A lot of people thought it was kind of funny at the time ’cause I was signed to the Wizards,” Dinwiddie said, via ESPN. “But me and [agent Jason] Glushon basically made a deal that we were going to keep it in whatever deal I signed, if possible, going forward. And it’s kind of just a thing that me and him bond over. It’s just that now I’m actually on a team that has championship aspirations, so people are like, ‘Why the hell would you do a dollar?'”