The Nets’ chances of missing the playoffs have increased as Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan have tested positive for COVID-19.
Jordan ruled himself out of the Orlando restart while Dinwiddie left the door open. It all leaves the Nets in shambles as they look to fly to Orlando on July 7.
If this sort of spread continues, it’s not too early to wonder whether the NBA’s elaborate Disney World-bubble plan will ever make it to the playoffs.
Seventh in the Eastern Conference, the Nets are already missing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving entering the eight-game regular-season restart, with the reopener scheduled for July 31 versus Orlando.
Dinwiddie broke the news to The Athletic. Hours later, Jordan tweeted his diagnosis. Both believe they caught the virus since the NBA-mandated return to Brooklyn.
Four Nets tested positive soon after the club regular season paused March 11. It’s not clear whether Dinwiddie had interacted with Jordan or other Nets since contracting the virus. Only Durant is known to have contracted the virus before the Dinwiddie/Jordan revelations.
Jordan tweeted: “Found out last night and confirmed again today that I’ve tested positive for Covid while being back in market. As a result of this, I will not be in Orlando for the resumption of the season.”
Dinwiddie had hoped the Nets would meet in Orlando first because New York City had been a hot spot. But Dinwiddie flew back to New York recently for individual workouts and just received his diagnosis.
The Nets are dropping like flies. On Sunday, Wilson Chandler, a reserve defensive specialist, backed out of the restart because of fear of contracting the virus. The team will also be without rookie big man Nic Claxton, who is out after shoulder surgery.
Ironically, Jordan was thrust into the starting lineup when Jacques Vaughn took over as interim coach for the fired Kenny Atkinson in early March. Jordan helped arrange Durant and Irving signing with the Nets and Atkinson’s decision to keep the veteran on the bench could have cost him his job.
With their roster depleted, the Nets recently signed guard Tyler Johnson (who played 31 games this season for the Suns, averaging 5.7 points) and reportedly also signed wing Justin Anderson. The 26-year-old played three games this season for Brooklyn.
Besides Johnson and Anderson, the Nets might need to sign another guard and possibly center to ensure they have enough depth, especially since it’s possible they could have even more positive cases.
“Over the past few months, I have been diligent about protecting myself and others from COVID-19 by following all designated protocol and quarantining,” Dinwiddie said. “I was ready and prepared to rejoin my teammates as we were to be an early entry team in the resumed season. I flew private to return to New York, passed multiple COVID-19 tests over my first several days in New York and was able to participate in a couple practices within the first week.
“Originally, we were supposed to be one of the teams to enter into the Orlando bubble early, but training camp got switched back to New York and unfortunately I am now positive. Given that I have experienced symptoms, including fever and chest tightness, it is unclear on whether or not I’ll be able to participate in Orlando.
“Hindsight is 20/20.”
Dinwiddie will be reevaluated in 14 days. Without Irving, Dinwiddie has stepped up big time. In fact, the Nets have a better record without Irving.
In 64 games, Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 points, 6.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds. The Nets lead Orlando by one-half game. If they drop to eighth place after the eight-game restart, they could be forced into a play-in against No. 9 Washington if the Wizards are within four games.
The play-in format would call for Washington to win twice while the Nets would only have to win once. Missing the playoffs wouldn’t be the worst scenario for Brooklyn.
Should they fall short, the Nets would regain their lottery pick from Minnesota lost in the Allan Crabbe trade. The Nets would give Minnesota their first-round pick next season when they are expected to be an Eastern power with the return of Durant.