The Brooklyn Nets made a mistake with Theo Pinson.
It was late on June 23 when Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Nets were signing guard Tyler Johnson for their stint in Orlando. This sounded great. Johnson has been a consistently hard-working 3-and-D guard and has been on Sean Marks’s radar for a while. n fact, Marks signed Johnson to a $50 million offer sheet in 2016, which was matched by the Miami Heat. However, the signing came with a casualty. The Nets waived Theo Pinson, ending what was a weirdly amazing stint in Brooklyn.
Pinson was an undrafted free agent after the 2018 NBA Draft and signed with the Nets, where he averaged 3.9 points per game on 21.4% from three. His value was apparent on the bench as a leader and as someone who could always motivate the team. Johnson was a great addition, but fans will miss Pinson’s energy on the Nets bench.
Now, the Nets are down five players going into Orlando: Kevin Durant (injury), Kyrie Irving (injury), Nicholas Claxton (shoulder surgery), Wilson Chandler (family), and DeAndre Jordan (COVID-19).
Spencer Dinwiddie also tested positive for COVID-19 and is still deciding whether or not to travel to Orlando with the team. That leaves the Nets point guard depth to Chris Chiozza, Caris LeVert, and Jaylen Hands (who spent the entire season with the Long Island Nets and might not be on the roster for Orlando).
Johnson spent most of his career playing shooting guard, but has the IQ to play point guard. Every day, the outlook for the Disney World Nets less optimistic, but being in the game will give them the opportunity to play guys who don’t normally play to see if they are worth keeping around. Enter Theo Pinson.
Pinson never had substantial minutes for the Nets, only averaging 11.3 minutes per game. But this stint at Disney World is for players who haven’t gotten their minutes. I expect to see extra time for Dzanan Musa, Chirs Chiozza, and Rodions “Air Latvia” Kurucs, as they fight to earn their places on the roster for the 2020-2021 season.
If the Nets had kept Pinson around, he could have had the chance to play around 20 minutes a game, giving him the chance to prove himself to the Nets organization as they strive to win a championship in the coming years. Pinson could have spent this time increasing his efficiency on the court. And, for the eight games plus a possible playoff appearance, Pinson might have demonstrated his value to the league as more than an important voice from the bench.
During the 43 games Pinson spent with the Long Island Nets over the past two seasons, he was able to average 19.5 points, 5.9 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 38.3% from three. Those numbers are promising for Pinson to be an all-around player in the NBA, given the opportunity. Disney World should have been his opportunity.
In the 2018-2019 season, Pinson took advantage of his minutes and dropped a cool 19 point/8 rebound/2 assist game against the Knicks, leading the Nets to a win. Now, Pinson is a Knick. Once the Knicks take the court again, it will be up to Pinson to earn the minutes on their court, retiring his Knick-killer identity.
Now, without Pinson and without so many of their key players, the Disney World Nets will have to develop a new, effective lineup. It is time for the bench players to shine. But after all Pinson did for the Nets, on and off the court, he deserved this opportunity to prove he belonged.