Davis Bertans

Wizards’ Frontcourt Additions Gaining Familiarity

The Wizards revamped their frontcourt this offseason, acquiring Davis Bertans from the Spurs and netting Moritz Wagner in a package from the Lakers, and Washington is using the preseason to get the pair acclimated. Both big men can knock down the three-ball with ease and Wagner feels that playing next to the sharp-shooting power forward has made his life easier on the court, as he recently told Hoops Rumors and other media members.

“It’s fun. I mean, he’s a killer,” Wagner said of Bertans after a recent preseason game against the Bucks. “He doesn’t really care if he misses, so he lets a fly all the time. It makes my life easier because all I have to do is really set good screens and be solid defensively. It’s unbelievable to play with him, all these guys honestly. They do an incredible job, play tough as heck. It’s a lot of fun.”

Bertans’ shooting was a major reason why the Wizards traded for him this offseason. The Latvian made 42.9% of his three-pointers last season, though the team knows he isn’t a one-trick pony.

“[Bertans] one of the best shooting bigs in the league and we’re lucky to have him and that’s a great addition to our ballclub over the summer,” Coach Scott Brooks told the media, including Hoops Rumors, on Sunday.

“We knew what we were getting, and it was under the radar how good he was going to be for us because a lot of time shooters don’t get the same respect. But he’s great. We love him. I like how he plays, I like how he competes. On the defense he contests shots. And when I talked to Pop [Gregg Popovich] over the summer, that’s when he said you’re going to be surprised defensively, he contests shots and he chases over screens. He gives you multiple efforts, he’s not just a jump shooter.”

How many minutes Wagner and Bertans will spend together on the court remains to be seen. Bradley Beal and Bryant are locks to start and Ish Smith—by virtue of being the only healthy veteran point guard available—will likely join them on opening night. Brooks could still opt to insert Bertans in the starting lineup, as the two starting forward positions remain unsettled.

The Wizards have set a different starting lineup in each of their first four preseason games and Bertans came off the bench in each of those contests. However, it’s worth noting that the former Spur was teamed up with the three presumed starters during an internal scrimmage earlier today.

While Wagner started one of the preseason games alongside Bryant, he’ll likely open the season as Washington’s backup five. He saw roughly 60% of his minutes at the center position last season, per Basketball-Reference, and with Ian Mahinmi nursing a right Achilles strain, the Wizards have an immediate need for someone to spell starter Thomas Bryant. Wagner should also see some time at the four this season and he’s comfortable playing either spot, as his role on the court doesn’t really change.

“I do the same thing, I’m the same player. So, whatever number you want to put on it,” Wagner said on Sunday. “I’m the same Mo, I really don’t care. In this league, you are who you can guard, so I think that’s the challenge. Either way, I’m excited to do that.”

Fans in Washington will see many new faces this season, particularly in the frontcourt where Bryant is the only big man from last year’s squad expected to be available for opening night. The franchise has one more preseason contest (Friday vs. the Sixers) before the regular season begins in Dallas.

“I think as a team, overall, we’ve done a really good job,” Wagner added. “Just connecting really well, just talking to each other, and planting confidence in each other. I think it looks good so far.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Popovich: Spurs “Blindsided” By Morris’ Change Of Heart

While it was overshadowed by bigger-name transactions, one of the most fascinating sequences of the first week of 2019’s free agent period came after the Spurs agreed to sign Marcus Morris to a two-year deal worth their mid-level exception.

San Antonio, having already reached a deal to sign DeMarre Carroll using a portion of the mid-level, renegotiated Carroll’s contract and agreed to send Davis Bertans to the Wizards in a three-team trade that would ultimately open up the MLE for Morris. However, Morris then reneged on his agreement with the Spurs, opting to sign with the Knicks instead. San Antonio subsequently used part of its MLE to sign Trey Lyles, but likely would have preferred to simply keep Bertans.

Addressing that situation for the first time today, Spurs head coach and head of basketball operations Gregg Popovich expressed frustration with how things played out, as Jabari Young of The Athletic (video link) relays.

“It was more than difficult to lose Davis,” Popovich said. “Let’s just say that that was an unfortunate situation that was handled unprofessionally on a couple of different levels. We made that move (trading Bertans) to make the signing that we did, and we got blindsided. Davis was a special player, as we all know. He was young and getting better and better, so we hated losing him.”

Morris’ change of heart in free agency played a part in his split with agent Rich Paul, who reportedly urged him to stick to his deal with the Spurs. The situation also allegedly fueled some animosity between the Knicks and Spurs.

Morris told Shams Charania of The Athletic in late July that as soon as he changed his mind and decided to sign with the Knicks, he called the Spurs to make sure they knew. According to Morris, he had “great conversations afterward” with the Spurs and felt good about moving forward.

Based on his Media Day comments, it doesn’t sound as if Popovich shared the same feelings about how the saga played out. Asked today if Morris reached out to the team and explained what happened, Popovich replied, “Not really.”

Wizards Notes: Beal, Bertans, McRae, Jamison

Bradley Beal still has a shot at a super-max contract, but the Wizards‘ lack of success on the court may stand in his way, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Beal can make himself eligible for the deal, which would pay about $254MM over five years, by making an All-NBA team. He fell just short last season despite averaging 25.6 PPG, and Washington’s 32-50 record may have hurt his cause.

The Wizards will likely be even worse this year after launching a youth movement.  Tomas Satoransky, Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green, Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker are all gone from last season’s team, and more minutes will go to Troy Brown Jr. and rookie Rui Hachimura. Hughes notes that Westgate Sportsbook has set Washington’s over-under on wins at 28.5. It has been 15 years since a player has made an All-NBA team while winning fewer than 29 games.

There’s more news from Washington:

  • Davis Bertans, who was acquired in a trade with the Spurs, will probably start at power forward until Hachimura proves he’s ready, predicts Fred Katz of The Athletic. Hachimura could still win the job with an outstanding performance in camp, but Katz sees Bertans as the safer choice. He doesn’t believe they’ll be in the starting lineup together, even if C.J. Miles isn’t able to play at the start of the season.
  • Jordan McRae received additional guaranteed money by staying on the roster through 5:00pm Eastern time yesterday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. McRae’s guarantee on his $1,645,357 contract doubled from $200K to $400K. He will get another $200K if he makes the opening-night roster. McRae appeared in 27 games as a two-way player last season and will be fighting for a roster spot in training camp, as the Wizards have just 13 fully guaranteed contracts.
  • Antawn Jamison tells Candace Buckner of The Washington Post he’s enjoying his new role as director of pro personnel. Jamison decided to leave television behind when new GM Tommy Sheppard offered him the job. “This is … my calling as far as after basketball and being in the front office and being a piece of the puzzle in trying to put the right pieces together,” Jamison said. “This is going to be fun. I love being able to come back to D.C. and being around people I respect and people who respect me. Out of all the things that have happened after basketball, this might be the smoothest transition.”

Spurs Trade Davis Bertans To Wizards In Three-Team Deal

5:32pm: The three-team trade is now official, the Nets announced in a press release. Bertans goes to Washington, Carroll to San Antonio, and White’s draft rights to Brooklyn. The Nets also acquired the draft rights for 2014 second-rounder Nemanja Dangubic from the Spurs.

4:33pm: The Spurs are finalizing a trade that will send sharpshooting forward Davis Bertans to the Wizards, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

As Wojnarowski explains, trading Bertans will allow San Antonio to acquire DeMarre Carroll and his new three-year deal via sign-and-trade. According to David Aldridge of The Athletic (via Twitter), the Nets will receive the rights to draft-and-stash player Aaron White from the Wizards in the three-team deal, which will send Carroll from Brooklyn to the Spurs.

Bertans, 26, is one of the most talented outside shooters among the NBA’s big men, having knocked down 42.9% of his three-pointers last season. In 76 total games (21.5 MPG), he averaged 8.0 PPG and 3.5 RPG for San Antonio. He’ll have an opportunity to earn a frontcourt role for a Wizards team that lost Bobby Portis and Trevor Ariza and also appears unlikely to bring back Jabari Parker or Sam Dekker.

The Wizards, who will absorb Bertans using the $8.6MM trade exception they created when they dealt Markieff Morris in February, will be right at the luxury-tax line after acquiring the Spurs’ forward. However, they could create some breathing room by waiving Jonathon Simmons before his 2019/20 salary becomes fully guaranteed, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

As for the Spurs, they had sought more versatility on the wing and at the forward spots, tweets Jabari Young of The Athletic. Swapping Bertans for Carroll will point them in that direction. Additionally, by folding Carroll’s agreement into this deal as a sign-and-trade, the Spurs retained their mid-level exception, which they’ll use to sign Marcus Morris, another versatile forward.

San Antonio initially reached a two-year contract agreement with Carroll, but amended it today to add an extra season, since sign-and-trade contracts must span at least three years. It’s not clear if that third year will be guaranteed.

As for the Nets, it’s unclear if their involvement in this deal extends beyond acquiring White and doing a favor to Carroll. The 49th overall pick in the 2015 draft, White has spent the last four seasons playing overseas for teams in Germany, Russia, and Lithuania.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Notes: Jokic, Gordon, Nurkic, Jazz

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic didn’t technically sign a maximum-salary contract when he re-upped with the club this summer, but he can increase his 2018/19 earnings to the maximum if he helps lead Denver to postseason success.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (subscription required), Jokic is one of several NBA players with incentives in their contracts for the coming season. In Jokic’s case, he’s currently about $862K shy of his maximum salary, but he can earn $431K if the Nuggets advance to the playoffs, and another $431K if they win in the first round.

Here are a few more details from Marks on this season’s incentives and bonuses:

  • Aaron Gordon has a potential path to an All-Star nod in an Eastern Conference that lost more top talent this offseason. Gordon’s new contract with the Magic calls for a $500K bonus if he’s named an All-Star, per Marks. He could also further increase his earnings by being named to the All-NBA and All-Defense teams at season’s end.
  • Jusuf Nurkic can earn an extra $1.25MM this season if he appears in 70 games and the Trail Blazers crack the 50-win threshold, according to Marks. Nurkic played in 79 games last season, but because Portland only had 49 wins, this incentive is considered unlikely and doesn’t currently count against Nurkic’s cap hit.
  • Davis Bertans has to meet several criteria in order to earn a $250K bonus on his new contract with the Spurs — the veteran forward must play in 70 games, make 165 three-pointers, and average 6.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, as Marks details.
  • Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Derrick Favors all have incentives on their new deals with the Jazz, with a focus on games played — they all must appear in at least 67 games to start earning their bonuses. Favors, in particular, has plenty riding on his performance, as he can earn $2.8MM in incentives. Of those incentives, $900K are considered likely and already count against his cap charge.
  • Marks also notes that several players will have a chance to become eligible for super-max contracts with their current clubs if they make All-NBA teams this season. That list includes Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Draymond Green (Warriors), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), and Kemba Walker (Hornets). Additionally, Devin Booker‘s new extension with the Suns would start at 27.5% of the cap if he’s named to the All-NBA Third Team, 28.5% if he’s named to the Second Team, and 30% for First Team.

Contract Details: Redick, Bertans, Clippers, O’Quinn

J.J. Redick‘s new deal with the Sixers gives him plenty of protection in the unlikely event that Philadelphia wants to trade him. Because he re-signed on a one-year deal and will have Early Bird rights at the end of it, he receives the ability to block any trade involving him during the 2018/19 league year, since he’d lose those Early Bird rights in the event that he’s moved.

On top of that, Redick has a 7.5% trade kicker in his new deal, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), which would give him a bonus if the Sixers do trade him and he approves the deal. That bonus would be worth about $919K, since Redick’s new contract has a value of $12.25MM, per Pincus.

Here are a few more details on newly-signed contracts, courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Spurs‘ new two-year agreement with Davis Bertans has a base value of $7MM annually, but Bertans can also earn $250K in unlikely incentives per year (Twitter link). The deal can be worth up to $14.5MM in total.
  • The Clippers split their full mid-level exception right down the middle, with Luc Mbah a Moute and Mike Scott each receiving $4,320,500 (Twitter link). L.A. will be hard-capped this season as a result of using the full MLE.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt, the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft, got a three-year, minimum-salary contract from the Nuggets with two fully guaranteed seasons (Twitter link). The third year will be non-guaranteed until July 15, 2020.
  • Kyle O’Quinn received the Pacers‘ full room exception ($4.449MM) on his one-year contract (Twitter link).

Spurs Re-Sign Davis Bertans

JULY 11: The Spurs’ two-year, guaranteed deal with Bertans is now official, according to his agent Arturs Kalnitis (Twitter link).

JULY 10: According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, Bertans’ new deal with the Spurs is for $14.5MM over two seasons.

JULY 9: After declining to match Kyle Anderson‘s offer sheet with the Grizzlies, the Spurs won’t let a second restricted free agent get away. According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, San Antonio has agreed to terms on a new contract with forward Davis Bertans. While it’s not official yet, the two sides are expected to complete a four-year, $20MM deal, per Carchia.

Bertans, 25, played regular minutes for the Spurs in 2017/18, averaging 5.9 PPG and 2.0 RPG with a .440/.373/.816 shooting line in 77 games (14.1 MPG). A 6’10” power forward, Bertans is capable of guarding frontcourt players on defense and stretching the floor on offense (1.2 threes per game).

Reports over the last week or two linked Bertans to the Jazz, Nets, and Timberwolves. However, Utah elected not to aggressively pursue outside free agents and the Wolves addressed their need for a stretch four by adding Anthony Tolliver. The Nets had cap room available to push the Spurs on Bertans, but appear to be biding their time and considering their options for their remaining space.

San Antonio will increase its team salary to approximately $110MM with Bertans back on the books. The team holds his Early Bird rights, so it can go over the cap to re-sign him without using another exception like the mid-level.

The Spurs entered the offseason with qualifying offers out to three restricted free agents. Although Anderson got away, the team appears poised to re-sign Bertans and is in a good position to retain Bryn Forbes as well.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Lin, Sixers, Kanter, Celtics

The Nets had legitimate interest in Julius Randle before he agreed to sign with the Pelicans, sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post. With Randle off the board, however, Brooklyn may not look to make a major splash in free agency after reaching deals with Joe Harris and Ed Davis. If the team returns to the free agent market, it will likely be for “under-the-radar types,” according to Lewis, who identifies Davis Bertans as one possible target.

There’s a chance that the Nets could still be active on the trade market as well. While a Monday report suggested the club isn’t actively shopping anyone, including Jeremy Lin, league sources tell Lewis that they’ve heard Lin could be dealt during the offseason. Without a major free agent target in their sights though, the Nets likely won’t be eager to get out from under the point guard’s $12.5MM+ expiring contract to create more spending flexibility.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Sixers have removed the cap hold for 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks from their 2018/19 cap, according to RealGM’s official transactions log. Philadelphia still holds Pasecniks’ NBA rights, but the move ensure that he won’t sign with the club for the coming season.
  • After opting into the final year of his contract, Enes Kanter said in an interview with MSG Network that he wishes he could’ve signed for longer, but is happy to remain with the Knicks (Twitter link via ESPN’s Ian Begley). It sounds like Kanter wanted to opt out of his deal in order to secure a long-term contract with New York, but the club wasn’t interested in adding long-term money to its books this offseason, preferring to maximize its cap flexibility for 2019.
  • Introduced by the Celtics today after signing a minimum-salary deal with the team, Brad Wanamaker said he has been looking for an opportunity to come to the NBA for the last couple years. “It’s a dream come true to play in the NBA and with a team like Boston,” the EuroLeague standout said, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Celtics rookie Robert Williams, who slipped to No. 27 in the draft in part due to reported character concerns, hasn’t exactly been making a great impression to start his NBA career. After sleeping through an introductory conference call on the day after the draft, Williams missed his flight to Boston for the start of Summer League practices over the weekend, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg.

Free Agent Rumors: Gordon, Brewer, Favors

While the Magic plan to pursue a long-term deal with restricted free agent Aaron Gordon, another team to keep an eye on is the Lakers, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.

It’s no surprise that Gordon, a 23-year-old fresh off of a career year with averages of 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, is generating interest in free agency but Zach Lowe of ESPN writes that Orlando may not have much pressure to go as high as the max to retain him.

The Lakers join a number of other teams apparently interested in poaching Gordon’s services, including the Pacers (story) and Kings (story).

  • The Rockets have scheduled a meeting with free agent wing James Nunnally, per international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). Nunnally, who has also been linked to Portland and Minnesota, played for Turkish team Fenerbahce last season and knocked down 55% of his three-pointers in EuroLeague play, making him an interesting fit for Houston.
  • Having already been linked to several potential targets since the free agent period opened, the Timberwolves have also “planted seeds” with Corey Brewer and Davis Bertans, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). As Wolfson observes, Minnesota has made a habit in recent years of spreading a wide net in free agency, inquiring on dozens of players.
  • In a later tweet, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News added that the Timberwolves have also checked in on Derrick Favors, Mike Scott, David Nwaba and Ian Clark.

FA Rumors: Jazz, Bertans, G. Green, Caupain

The Jazz will enter the offseason with a little spending flexibility, but their top priority is retaining their own free agents. As Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune writes, general manager Dennis Lindsey has made it clear privately and publicly that the team wants to re-sign Derrick Favors, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto, who will have the opportunity to reach the open market on Sunday. Favors, in particular, has already “piqued the interest” of multiple teams, per Jones, but the big man and the Jazz have mutual interest in continuing their relationship.

League sources tell Jones that the Jazz will do their due diligence on top free agents, but the club likely won’t have cap room available for outside targets. Instead, Utah will have its mid-level exception available, and in this market, it’s not unreasonable to expect that exception – worth about $8.6MM – to be enough for a starter or a high-level backup, writes Jones. While there’s no guarantee that the Jazz will use its full MLE on one player, the team could target a scorer capable of creating his own shot, Jones notes.

Here’s more on free agency, with July 1 right around the corner:

  • The Jazz and Nets are among the teams expected to challenge the Spurs for restricted free agent Davis Bertans, a source tells Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that Brooklyn will seek a stretch four, and Utah was in the market for a similar player during the season. Bertans, a 6’10” forward who has made 38.4% of his career three-pointers, fits the bill.
  • Free agent swingman Gerald Green will meet with the Rockets in Los Angeles on July 1, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Haynes, Green will have multiple suitors.
  • The Magic and guard Troy Caupain have discussed a possible two-way contract agreement, per Nicola Lupo of Sportando (Twitter link). Caupain spent last season with the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s G League affiliate.