Even if sports — particularly basketball — is played down in Orlando later this month, it’s going to be a difficult haul for the Brooklyn Nets.
On Monday, both Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan disclosed that they tested positive for COVID-19, making it six members of the team that contracted the virus since the outbreak.
Jordan, a veteran center, has already made it known that he will not travel to Orlando to play in the NBA’s bubble reboot while the book is still out on Dinwiddie’s chances.
Backing up Jarrett Allen, Jordan has been a valuable piece off the bench, averaging 8.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, but Dinwiddie’s prospective declination of playing later next month would be a hammer blow for the Nets.
The 27-year-old has continued his emergence as a star in the NBA, averaging 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game — both career highs — to pick up the slack in Kyrie Irving’s absence.
Irving, a marquee signing last summer alongside Kevin Durant, appeared in just 20 games before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Durant, who is healing from a ruptured Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors, has yet to play a game in a Nets uniform.
Along with Irving, Durant, and Jordan, the Nets discovered that veteran forward Wilson Chandler opted out of playing down in Orlando amid the pandemic and rookie power forward Nic Claxton, who underwent shoulder surgery last week.
From a pure basketball standpoint, it makes Dinwiddie’s impending decision a make-or-break one for the Nets.
With eight regular-season games on the slate once play returns, the Nets hold the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference by a half-game over the Orlando Magic and six games over the Washington Wizards.
A disastrous return with a shorthanded team could not only see the Nets slide to the eighth spot for a meeting with the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, but an improbable hot streak by the Wizards could knock Brooklyn out of the playoffs altogether.
But current times don’t allow us to look at things through the prism of just basketball. The health and safety of the players, coaches, and their families are paramount, and their decisions on playing or not in the Orlando bubble should not be chastised.
Dinwiddie did make note that he wants to play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney World, but extenuating circumstances might not make that possible.