DALLAS — Spencer Dinwiddie, who frequently attributes his phenomenal early fit with the Dallas Mavericks to the team’s culture and role definition, admitted Saturday that the perception he was a poor teammate during his brief stint with the Washington Wizards bothered him.
Dinwiddie arrived in Dallas at the trade deadline along with forward Davis Bertans in a deal for Kristaps Porzingis. Dinwiddie signed a three-year, $54 million contract with the Wizards during the offseason, but there were reports that he wasn’t well-liked inside the Washington locker room.
« I think that’s what hurt the most, » Dinwiddie said after a 36-point, seven-assist performance in the Mavericks’ 114-113 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. « I’ve never bashed Washington. I’ve never said an ill thing about the team. In fact, I thank the owner or chairman Ted [Leonsis]I thank Tommy Sheppard the GM and I thank [Bradley Beal] for those three kind of collectively deciding to give me my contract. They didn’t have to pay somebody coming off an ACL.
« I’m appreciative of that, appreciative of my time there. … So to be bashed out on the way out the door hurt my feelings for sure. I think I’m human, of course. »
Dinwiddie has quickly emerged as a major contributor as a sixth man for the Mavs. He’s averaged 22.2 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 57.1% from the floor in five games since the All-Star break, playing a major role in closing out a pair of wins over the Golden State Warriors during that span.
« He’s been very receptive to coaching and to his teammates, and they trust him, » Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. « That’s one of the hardest things is, how fast will the trust take place? I think you can see the trust is at a very high level when he’s on the floor. »
Asked why he seems to fit so much better in Dallas than Washington, Dinwiddie said, « Not to beat a dead horse, I just think our commitment to the collective and to winning games is all that matters. »
The Mavs are 6-1 when Dinwiddie plays, including Saturday’s win, when he filled Luka Doncic’s spot in the starting lineup while the superstar rested with a minor toe injury. Dinwiddie said he feels the freedom to be aggressive while understanding exactly what the Mavs need from him, specifically his ability to penetrate.
« I do what I do and I don’t do what I’m not supposed to do, » Dinwiddie said. « That goes one through 15. Everybody here follows that type of mentality because we understand to win basketball games not just in the regular season but to win in the playoffs, you need that. »
Dinwiddie also noted that his Wizards tenure began well before issues arose. He averaged 17.0 points and 6.0 assists during Washington’s 10-3 start, hitting several clutch shots during that stretch despite being early in his return from knee surgery.
« I was fighting through for those guys, » said Dinwiddie, who averaged only 8.4 points on 27% shooting as the Wizards lost eight of his last nine games in a Washington uniform. « When the role changed and they wanted me to pass more — they felt like I was scoring a lot — I did that. I took my foot off the gas scoring-wise because that’s what they felt — the team needed to get [Kyle Kuzma] and [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] and those guys shots. I said, ‘Look, I already got paid. This is about y’all trying to get the shots that y’all need, whatever.’
« So to get kind of kicked out the door was a wild feeling. I hadn’t really experienced that before. But I still have nothing ill to say other than, yes, it hurt my feelings. But just like anything else, you become cautiously optimistic about your new situation. So far, it’s a great fit. I love what they ask me to do here, which is get in the paint, and I’m going to continue to do that and continue to try to be of service . »