Following a transaction-free trade deadline, the Lakers look poised to make their biggest in-season shakeup splash through the buyout market. While that market looks thinner now than it may have before the deadline — with the Thunder trading for Gordon Hayward and the Sixers being the prohibitive favorites to land Kyle Lowry — one player now stands atop the likely candidates as the most reputable rotation-caliber player.
After trading a disgruntled Dennis Schroder to the Nets, the Raptors reportedly plan on waiving Spencer Dinwiddie, allowing him to sign with any team as a free agent once he clears waivers. As of now, the Lakers and Mavericks stand as favorites to sign the 30-year-old when that happens.
Free agent guard Spencer Dinwiddie is at MSG for Knicks-Mavs tonight, sitting behind the Dallas bench. The Lakers and Mavericks are among teams Dinwiddie is considering signing with, per league sources. pic.twitter.com/Kpapo2X6yA— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 9, 2024
Since Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka stated after Thursday’s deadline that the Lakers’ top priority in the buyout market is a “ball-handling guard” before targeting the “best available” player, it makes a lot of sense that Dinwiddie, a player who might check both of those boxes, is someone the team is reportedly eyeing.
Still, as a guy who couldn’t command any return value for more than his name attached to a salary number on the open market, and is now headed towards a buyout with his new team, Dinwiddie is an imperfect player who could be an imperfect fit with the Lakers.
A 10-year NBA vet, Dinwiddie is a capable playmaker who the Lakers can run offense through in a pinch, or as a second or third option. He’s a strong playmaker, averaging 6.0 assists per game to just 1.3 turnovers, giving him the eighth-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA this season.
A look at his advanced metrics lines up with the eye test. Dinwiddie is a strong floor reader and quick decision-maker, even if he lacks the downhill force or superlative vision to be the central hub of an elite offense himself.
As a scorer, Dinwiddie presents more of a mixed bag. He eclipsed the 20 points per game threshold just once, in 2019-20, helping lead a frisky Nets team to the East’s seventh seed despite the team finishing two games below .500.
Dinwiddie has long been an inefficient shooter. He currently makes fewer than 40% of his shots from the field and just 32% of his threes. Both marks are slightly below his career averages, but Dinwiddie has a long track record of being a better shot-taker than a shot-maker.
Basketball Index likes his shooting talent — A- Perimeter Shooting — due to his passable accuracy on extremely tough shot quality (F 3PT Shot Quality). There is some evidence that the increase in shot quality he’d likely see as a member of the Lakers’ supporting cast would improve his overall shot-making since he shot over 40% on threes during parts of two seasons within the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic-centric superior offensive environment.
Seventy-six games of sweet-shooting is hardly a sure thing, so it’d be unwise to expect Dinwiddie — a career 33.1% 3-point shooter — to turn into Reggie Miller on the Lakers. Still, his strong playmaking and potential to be a more accurate shooter than he has mostly been throughout his career make him absolutely a valuable offensive addition the Lakers would benefit from adding.
His defense is less of a question mark than his shooting, but more of a problem. Dinwiddie is a big guard at 6’5”, but with slow feet and just a reported 6’8” wingspan, Dinwiddie is the kind of defender that makes perimeter scorers lick their chops. He’s big enough that, with effort, he’s not useless, but he’s far from being the kind of playmaker on that end that the Lakers hoped Gabe Vincent could be for them.
Even if he helps deepen and diversify the offensive output the Lakers are already getting from their starting backcourt, Dinwiddie would do little to shore up the defensive weaknesses inherent in an Austin Reaves-D’Angelo Russell starting backcourt.
Overall, impact metrics tend to favor Dinwiddie, with his offensive impact outweighing his negative defense in both Basketball-Reference’s Box Plus Minus 2.0 (57th percentile) and Basketball Index’s LEBRON (83rd percentile).
Ideally, Spencer Dinwiddie could slot in as the Lakers’ third or fourth guard in the rotation. He gives the Lakers a more offensively-oriented look than currently-injured guards Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, and now Max Christie would at full strength and shores up the rotation if any of them fail to return to the lineup or to form.
And as a “break-in-case-of-emergency” backup for a bad D’Angelo Russell night (or series), Dinwiddie is about as good as it gets. Hopefully, the draw of a homecoming to Hollywood can lure Dinwiddie to Los Angeles over a reunion with the Mavs.
If not, the next-best point guard on the market, assuming Lowry to Philly is a done-deal, might be Killian Hayes, which... well—let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.