Corey Kispert

Wizards Pick Up 2023/24 Options For Avdija, Kispert

The Wizards have picked up their 2023/24 team options for Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert, both of whom are on their rookie scale contracts, according to Josh Robbins and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

As Robbins notes, exercising the options was a mere formality, since both players were pretty high picks and have been fairly productive. The ’23/24 season will be the fourth and final season of Avdija’s rookie deal, and the third season of Kispert’s.

Avdija, 21, was the No. 9 overall pick of the 2020 draft out of Israel. While his offense has been up-and-down, he’s shown to be a solid, versatile defender, especially last season. He appeared in all 82 games (24.2 MPG) during his second season in ’21/22, averaging 8.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 2.0 APG on .432/.317/.757 shooting. His ’23/24 option is worth $6,263,188.

Kispert, 23, was the No. 15 overall pick of last year’s draft after four years at Gonzaga. Known as a strong shooter, Kispert struggled to adjust to the NBA as a rookie for the first several months until he found his rhythm after the All-Star break. Overall, he averaged 8.2 PPG and 2.7 RPG on .455/.350/.871 shooting in 77 games (36 starts, 23.4 MPG). He’ll earn $3,722,040 in ’23/24.

The Wizards have a full 20-man roster entering training camp, including 15 players with fully guaranteed standard contracts, though they do have one two-way slot open at the moment.

Wizards Notes: Chemistry, Gibson, Wright, Hachimura, Kispert

Speaking to reporters this week, Wizards president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard and head coach Wes Unseld Jr. both expressed enthusiasm about the chemistry of the new-look roster, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. As Robbins notes, chemistry was an issue for much of last season, when there was some in-fighting and a few players who disliked their roles. The Wizards’ leaders believe this year’s group will be a more cohesive one.

“I think the biggest thing for me is the fit,” Unseld said. “The talent is one thing, and I think there’s a better fit, and that does help that competitive spirit, the connectivity that we talk about. When it fits and guys get ‘big picture,’ what is the most important thing? That’s winning. That mindset seems to be more of a collective within the group than I think we’ve seen in the past.”

While Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma are viewed as probable starters, there could be some competition for the other spots in the starting five, as well as for rotation minutes. Unseld is encouraging that spirit of competition and doesn’t anticipate it will create the sort of animosity it did at times last season.

“We want it to be as competitive as possible and kind of that mindset of ‘compete with each other, not against each other.’ You want to push the guy next to you, but you want it to be in a healthy way,” Unseld said. “I think, with the group that we have, guys understand that mindset. They’re trying to push the guy next to them to be the best version of him.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • While the offseason signing of Taj Gibson was hardly a blockbuster move, Sheppard is excited about what the veteran big man can bring to the franchise. “One person not to sleep on that’s just been a fantastic veteran presence for us has been Taj Gibson and his ability to bring people together,” Sheppard said, per Robbins. “We’ve got a lot of good connectors. I think there’s bookends, and I just kind of bragged about these guys for a minute, but they’re really high-character people that love to be here, love to represent D.C., can’t wait to get in front of the fans and show that this is new, that this is a new team. And we’re excited.”
  • Monte Morris may be ahead of Delon Wright on the depth chart at point guard, but Sheppard expects Wright to play a significant role for the Wizards in 2022/23, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. “I think Delon is going to help us out tremendously especially at the end of games,” the Wizards executive said. “He’s someone that could be contending for the All-Defensive team and he might not even start. There’s a huge opportunity for him to finish games.”
  • After representing Japan in the Tokyo Olympics last summer, Wizards forward Rui Hachimura will return to his home country again this preseason when the Wizards play two exhibition games against Golden State. According to Hughes, the Wizards and Hachimura’s agents are taking some precautions to make sure the forward doesn’t get burnt out by his various obligations in Japan, completing several of his media interviews prior to the trip. It’s a big season for Hachimura, who will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023 if he doesn’t sign a rookie scale extension before opening night.
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Robbins takes a look at what scouts around the league are saying about 2021 first-round pick Corey Kispert, who finished strong last season after a slow start. Three of the four scouts who spoke to Robbins think Kispert will be a long-term backup, rather than a starter.

Wizards Notes: Kuzma, Barton, Point Guards

Returning to the playoffs will be the number one objective for the Wizards this season, Kyle Kuzma told Mike DeStefano of Complex. The team has been stockpiling young players recently, including No. 10 pick Johnny Davis in this year’s draft. Although there’s plenty of talent on hand, Washington regressed in Wes Unseld Jr.‘s first year as head coach, falling to 35-47 after reaching the postseason the year before.

“It’s all about getting to the playoffs. That’s my mindset,” Kuzma said. “The NBA’s always better when you can win. We probably had one of the more talented teams that Wizard fans and the DMV’s (DC, Maryland and Virginia) seen in recent years and we have to figure it out, take that leap, and start playing winning basketball. That’s the most important thing that we have to do.”

Kuzma’s interview took place at New York Fashion Week and focuses mainly on clothing, including some of his more memorable outfits. He also talks about his favorite throwback jerseys, including the Wizards’ versions from the Michael Jordan era.

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • The Wizards’ starting lineup appears mostly set with training camp getting underway next weekend, but there will be a competition to determine who starts at small forward, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Hughes says Will Barton, who was acquired from the Nuggets in an offseason trade, appears to be the favorite, citing his experience and his familiarity with Unseld from their time together in Denver. Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, Rui Hachimura and maybe even Davis will also be in the mix.
  • Newly acquired Monte Morris and Delon Wright will be the only two veteran point guards in camp, Hughes adds in the same story. General manager Tommy Sheppard said Bradley Beal and Davis may see some time at the position, and Davion Mintz could be used there if he makes the roster.
  • The Wizards haven’t posted a winning record in five seasons, but they also haven’t fully bottomed out and tried to rebuild, notes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. He credits that decision to owner Ted Leonsis, who proclaimed nearly four years ago that the organization would never tank. Robbins believes the Wizards missed an opportunity by not trading Beal when his value was at its highest.

Eastern Notes: Caruso, Williams, Davis, Pistons

Playing hard-charging Alex Caruso less might produce better results for the Bulls guard, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes, arguing that Caruso’s style lends itself to playing in shorter bursts. Rookie Dalen Terry, another high-energy defender, could take away a few of Caruso’s minutes and that actually might be a good thing.

Caruso averaged 7.4 PPG, 4.0 APG and 1.7 SPG in his first year with the Bulls while being limited to 41 games due to injuries. He’s entering the second year of his four-year, $37MM contract.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • A breakout season from power forward Patrick Williams could be the Bulls’ biggest hope for internal improvement, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. Williams missed most of last season due to a wrist injury. However, his skills could go a long way toward helping the Bulls fare better against the conference’s elite, Johnson notes, as he’ll often draw the opponent’s top player defensively.
  • Wizards lottery pick Johnny Davis will likely fight for minutes with last year’s first-round pick Corey Kispert, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Davis projects as a better defender than Kispert, but Kispert has the edge in experience and 3-point shooting. Becoming a better spot-up shooter will be pivotal for Davis to live up to his draft status, notes one of several scouts interviewed by Robbins to evaluate the rookie’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Not surprisingly, Cade Cunningham is the most valuable asset the Pistons possess, The Athletic’s James Edwards III writes. However, their second-most valuable asset isn’t a player currently on their roster but rather their draft pick next year, since Detroit is expected to be in the lottery again. Edwards ranks the team’s top 10 assets, with rookie guard Jaden Ivey coming in third.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Oladipo, Durant, Kispert

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra seems likely to let chemistry and on-court fit determine the team’s lineups, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in a reader mailbag. Winderman notes that Miami may even consider Max Strus or Caleb Martin as its starting power forward. The team let starting power forward P.J. Tucker leave for the Sixers in free agency this summer and hasn’t re-signed backup Markieff Morris, also a free agent.

Though the starting roles of All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler, All-Defensive Team center Bam Adebayo, and $85M point guard Kyle Lowry appear secure for opening night, it seems that Spoelstra may be amenable to experimenting in training camp to figure out who fits best alongside that trio. Strus and Tucker closed the 2021/222 season as the other starters.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In another mailbag, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that a big X-factor in the Heat‘s success this season could be the two-way play of Victor Oladipo, who signed a new two-year, $18.2MM contract. Winderman notes that the handle, defense, and shooting upside of the 6’4″ combo guard out of Indiana could prove to be massive assets for Miami in the East. Since being acquired from the Rockets in 2021, Oladipo has appeared in just 12 regular season games with the Heat, though he proved to be a helpful contributor during Miami’s 2022 run to the Eastern Conference Finals, playing in 15 playoff contests. Winderman wonders if Oladipo may even prove himself to be more valuable to the Heat than extension-eligible Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, given Oladipo’s defensive skill set.
  • As chatter of a potential Kevin Durant deal to the Heat looms, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel notes that Durant’s interest in joining the Heat can only go so far in getting him to Miami. Winderman writes that, due to the four years remaining on the All-Star forward’s current contract with the Nets, Brooklyn is in the driver’s seat for a potential trade, looking to extract maximum assets in any deal.
  • Wizards second-year small forward Corey Kispert could take a big leap in output this season if history is a reliable metric, opines Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 6’7″ swingman, 23, was selected with the No. 15 pick out of Washington in 2022. Across 77 games, he averaged 8.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.1 APG, while shooting .455/.350/.871. Hughes writes that, across his final 24 appearances after All-Star weekend, Kispert converted 38.6% of his long-range looks, a significant uptick from the 32.2% of his triples he had nailed in his first 53 NBA games. Hughes takes stock of the first and second-season production of historic three-point specialists like Danny Green, Buddy Hield, Bryn Forbes, Seth Curry and others, and draws comparisons to what Kispert could be able to do in his second year with Washington.

Wizards Notes: Gibson, Brogdon, Hachimura, Kispert

The Wizards are coming off a disappointing season, but Taj Gibson believes his new team has the talent to contend for a playoff spot, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Gibson’s assessment of the roster is one of the reasons he made the decision to join the Wizards after being waived by the Knicks.

“I’ve seen they have a young and talented team,” Gibson said. “It’s a sleeper team and I just want to be a part of something special. The NBA is full of ups and downs, but I wanted to go to a place where I can just put my veteran mentorship and whatever I can to add to the team.”

The 37-year-old projects to be the third-string center behind Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford. His role may expand if there are injuries or Porzingis sees some time at power forward, but Gibson has proven he can be productive in limited minutes.

“They have so many talented guys,” he said of the Wizards.  “I’m just a fan of all of them. I’m just lucky enough to be able to say I can go into the gym and get better with these guys, build a bond with these guys. That’s my whole goal.”

There’s more from Washington:

  • Malcolm Brogdon was ultimately traded to the Celtics, but he said on a recent edition of The Woj Pod that he expected to be dealt to the Wizards on draft night (hat tip to Bijan Todd of NBC Washington). “I thought it was going to be Washington,” Brogdon told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “I heard the Pacers loved the idea of having that 10th pick and having two picks in the lottery and I knew Washington needed a good veteran point guard to pair with Brad Beal. I knew I fit his timeline and knew that everything fit.” The Wizards were heavily linked in trade rumors to Brogdon, who has ties to the D.C. area after playing college basketball at Virginia.
  • The Wizards used Summer League to focus on talent from their G League team, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Seven players on the Las Vegas roster spent time with the Capital City Go-Go last season. “We want to become the Miamis, the Golden States, the Oklahoma Citys — the teams that bring these guys in at the G League level and then they see a pathway to the NBA,” Go-Go general manager Amber Nichols said. “You’ve got to cultivate them in your own system, in your own house.” 
  • Gonzaga coach Mark Few believes his former players Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert have a bright future ahead after overcoming difficulties last season, Hughes adds in a separate story.

Wizards Notes: Porzingis, Beal, Satoransky, Kispert

Kristaps Porzingis is showing that he can be a dominant scorer late in games, which makes the prospect of a future pairing with Bradley Beal very intriguing, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards only have two wins in the past 19 days, but Porzingis took over both of them, scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter against the Lakers last week and 11 in the fourth quarter against the Pistons Friday night.

“I enjoy those clutch moments, those last possessions,” Porzingis said. “There’s more on the line. I think every basketball player enjoys those shots more.”

Beal hasn’t played since Porzingis was acquired from the Mavericks in February, so the Wizards haven’t gotten to see how their games fit together. They are hoping to keep Beal this summer and use them as the basis to build a contending team. For now, coach Wes Unseld Jr. is experimenting with the advantages that having the tallest player on the court can offer.

“He’s kind of a steadying presence. You can play through him,” Unseld Jr. said. “With his size and stature, you know he can get a shot off. Get him to a spot and let him do his thing. He made some big plays late.” 

There’s more from Washington:

  • Beal, who has a decision to make on his $36.4MM player option for next season, talked about his situation on Draymond Green‘s podcast this week (hat tip to James Herbert of CBS Sports). Beal appreciates that the Wizards front office has refused to include him in trade talks, but he’s still planning to keep his options open. “It’s kind of funny. I’ve never been a free agent,” he said. “It’s kind of reminding me of college recruiting. Like I hear every single game somebody’s recruiting me. Someone’s like tagging on me, whether it’s another player or whether it may be a coach or whoever it may be, somebody’s chit-chatting: ‘B, what you want to do this summer? What you doing this summer?'”
  • Tomas Satoransky made his first start on Friday since signing with the Wizards at the end of February, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. It may be a sign of hope for Satoransky, who has been through three trades, a buyout and an injury over the past seven months.
  • After fighting to earn minutes early in the season, rookie Corey Kispert is now a regular part of the starting lineup, Robbins notes in a separate story. Beal’s absence created an opening, and Kispert seized the opportunity. “There’s no substitute for NBA minutes, no matter how many you get,” he said. “So I’m just really happy that I have a chance to play through mistakes and play through all those things. It’s made me a better player and then consequently I make less of them.”

Wizards Notes: Player Development, Hachimura, Porzingis

Whether the Wizards push hard for a play-in spot down the stretch or resign themselves to a lottery berth and vie for draft positioning, developing their young players will be a top priority the rest of the way, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

As Hughes outlines, if youngsters like Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, Corey Kispert, and Daniel Gafford thrive in the second half of the season, that will give the Wizards more options in the offseason — they could decide to build around those players or could try to trade one or more of them for a more established player.

Avdija, who is averaging 7.5 PPG on the season, has looked good as of late, scoring double-digit points in all three games since the trade deadline and grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds in Monday’s win over Detroit. However, Hachimura’s developmental process may have hit another temporary snag during Monday’s victory.

As Hughes writes in a separate NBC Sports Washington story, Hachimura left the game in the first half due to a right ankle sprain. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after the game that he’s hopeful the sprain isn’t too severe, but it still might make sense for Washington to hold out the third-year forward until at least after the All-Star break.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Unseld said on Monday that there’s hope Kristaps Porzingis will be able to make his Wizards debut before the All-Star break (Twitter link via Hughes). Washington plays in Indiana on Wednesday and Brooklyn on Thursday, so we’ll see if Porzingis – who is day-to-day with a right knee bone bruise – is available for either of those games.
  • Although general manager Tommy Sheppard insisted a few weeks before the trade deadline that the team felt no need to move Spencer Dinwiddie, it was obvious something was “dramatically off-kilter,” writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Dinwiddie, who struggled to produce alongside Bradley Beal, never seemed comfortable with his role on the team, Robbins adds, noting that the point guard was “oddly passive” and probably didn’t have the ball in his hands enough.
  • Within that same story at The Athletic, Tim Cato considers what Porzingis can bring to the Wizards, suggesting the big man has reemerged as a strong defender when healthy this season and is no longer an obvious target for switches. However, Porzingis hasn’t been a reliable outside shooter in 2021/22, and his frequent injury-related absences resulted in some awkward readjustment periods when he’d return to the lineup after missing several games, says Cato.

Wizards Rumors: Sabonis, Grant, Beal, Bryant, Harrell, Dinwiddie

A number of people around the NBA think the Wizards will go “big-game hunting” at the trade deadline in an effort to ensure Bradley Beal remains happy with the situation in D.C. ahead of his upcoming free agency, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on his latest podcast.

Scotto identified Pistons forward Jerami Grant and Pacers center Domantas Sabonis as two potential targets to watch for the Wizards. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report mentions the same two names in his look at Washington’s deadline options, referring to Sabonis as a player who has emerged as a “significant” target for the Wizards.

According to Fischer, there’s a belief Beal has signaled plans to re-sign with the Wizards in the offseason, and there has been no indication the team is willing to discuss him in trade talks on or before February 10. However, having slid down the standings since a 10-3 start, the club appears to be in the market for an impact player in order to help “solidify Beal’s standing” in Washington.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • One source with knowledge of the situation tell Bleacher Report that Beal hasn’t actively encouraged the Wizards to acquire Sabonis, but word around the league is that the Wizards star would welcome the opportunity to play with the big man, Fischer writes. The Kings and Pelicans are the other teams believed to have serious interest in Sabonis, per Fischer’s sources.
  • The Pacers‘ front office liked Rui Hachimura heading into the 2019 draft and considered Corey Kispert in the 2021 lottery, according to Fischer, who notes that at least two of Hachimura, Kispert, and Deni Avdija would probably have to be included in any package for Sabonis. The Wizards would also have to offer a player like Thomas Bryant or Montrezl Harrell for salary-matching purposes, plus possibly draft assets, and even that might not meet Indiana’s high asking price, says Fischer.
  • The Wizards have made outgoing calls to assess Harrell’s trade value, and rival executives believe they’re playing Bryant more lately in order to showcase him for a potential deal, writes Fischer.
  • Although the Wizards have made Spencer Dinwiddie available, his down year will make it more challenging to find a trade partner, per Fischer. “He needs the ball, he’s not good enough to have the ball, and he’s not a good shooter,” a Western Conference executive said to Bleacher Report.

Wizards Notes: Hachimura, Bryant, Dinwiddie, Caldwell-Pope

The slumping Wizards are due for lineup changes when Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant are ready to start playing again, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Washington was one of the NBA’s early-season surprises with a 10-3 start, but has gone just 4-7 since then and has fallen to the middle of the Eastern Conference pack.

In a recent radio interview, general manager Tommy Sheppard said Hachimura, who is away from the team on a personal absence and hasn’t played yet this season, could begin practicing after a three-game road trip ends Wednesday. Sheppard expects Bryant, who is recovering from a torn ACL, to be back at practice within two weeks.

Once they’re available, Robbins expects coach Wes Unseld Jr. to make adjustments to his rotation. Davis Bertans is likely to see his minutes reduced, along with rookie Corey Kispert. Kyle Kuzma, who has been playing power forward in Hachimura’s absence, will probably see more time at small forward, and Deni Avdija will have a smaller role.

There’s more from Washington:

  • The Wizards are being cautious with Spencer Dinwiddie, who will be rested tonight in the second game of a back-to-back, Robbins tweets. The free agent addition is only 11 months removed from ACL reconstruction surgery on his right knee.
  • Even though Washington lost to the Raptors on Sunday, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope delivered his best game since being acquired from the Lakers in an offseason trade, notes Andrew Gillis of NBC Sports Washington. Caldwell-Pope delivered 26 points on 8-of-9 shooting, even though he said he felt less than 100%. KCP is one of four Wizards who haven’t missed a game this season. “You just gotta try to gut it out,” Caldwell-Pope said. “You’ve got to try to find that energy from somewhere and try to finish the game. Just do your job and do what you can do out there. Just give it all you’ve got until you can’t give it no more. We talk about effort so much, it’s a big part of how we play the game.”
  • The Wizards haven’t lost three straight games this season, and Unseld is eager to see how they respond after two straight blowouts, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “Early in the season, we bounced back from these stretches,” he said. “This has kind of been the longest duration where things are kind of tenuous for us, so it’s certainly a test. We have no choice. We’ve gotta pull together, we’ve gotta dig ourselves out and we’ve gotta find a way.”