Washington Wizards center Davis Bertans has emerged as one of the NBA’s best floor-spacing big men and he will be a top priority for the team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent once the season ends, according to the organization’s general manager.
As relayed by The Athletic‘s Fred Katz via Twitter, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard spoke about his desire to retain Bertans during his year-end press conference on Wednesday.
“He’s been a priority. I told him that. And really, nothing has changed there,” he told members of the media.
Although Washington failed to qualify for the postseason for a second straight year, the 27-year-old Bertans enjoyed his best year since making the move from Liga ACB and EuroLeague competition to the NBA in 2016. Over 54 games — the vast majority of which he appeared in as a reserve — he averaged 15.4 points and nearly five rebounds in just under 30 minutes per contest, both career highs.
Moreover, he connected on better than 42 percent of his nine three-point attempts per game, which was good for sixth-best across the league.
Bertans was conspicuously absent as his team participated in the league’s bubble environment restart in Orlando, Florida, opting out in order to mitigate the risk of incurring an injury and/or contracting COVID-19 as he prepares to enter free agency.
Still, assuming the league-wide financial burden caused by the ongoing pandemic doesn’t affect the offseason spending of potential suitors, he could be in line for a significant payday after making $7 million in each of the last two seasons, according to Spotrac. However, uncertainty abounds for teams and players around the NBA with regard to finances.
Sheppard’s remarks on Wednesday would seem to indicate that, in spite of his decision not to join the Wizards in the bubble, Washington hasn’t soured on the Latvian pivot man.
Although the Wizards will only have a modest amount of cap space heading into the offseason, signing Bertans to a long-term deal could be a prudent move if they expect to be competitive now. With All-Star guards Bradley Beal and John Wall — the latter of whom has not played since December 2018 — both set to return from injury next season, there is reason to believe the franchise can compete.
During the high-scoring backcourt duo’s last full season together in 2016-2017, the Wizards finished with a 49-33 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where it took the Boston Celtics a full seven games to eliminate them.
However, some analysts believe it would behoove the Wizards to transition to a full-scale rebuild. For his part, Osman Baig of SB Nation’s Bullets Forever suggested that the team trade Beal, citing a hypothetical deal with the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and multiple future first-round picks.