Davis Bertans

Bulls Notes: Unseld, Coaching Candidates, FA Targets

Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. made a stronger case for the Bulls‘ head coaching vacancy after Denver defeated the Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski notes that Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas, who worked in Denver’s front office with Unseld, already thought highly of him. The 44-year-old assistant coach also received a ringing endorsement from Nuggets head coach Mike Malone after their victory in Game 7. “Wes Unseld should be a head coach,” Malone said.

Unseld is reportedly among 10 candidates who were a part of Karnisovas’ original list for the Bulls’ head coaching job.

Here’s more from the Windy City:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago evaluates the 10 candidates connected to the Bulls’ head coaching vacancy. Johnson notes that outside of former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and former Thunder head coach Billy Donovan, the rest of the candidates are assistant coaches. Former Bulls coach Jim Boylen was an assistant before getting promoted to head coach.
  • Bulls rookie point guard Coby White potentially divulged some inside information about the team’s head coaching search on Wednesday, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. White was asked by reporters what he wants in the next head coach and mentioned the team’s timeline for the position. “We haven’t talked about the new coach because it’s so spread out right now. They haven’t really narrowed it down to the people that — I think, don’t they narrow it down Friday or something like that?” According to Cowley, there are indications that Chicago has moved on to the second round of interviews, with the first round reportedly wrapping up last week.
  • In his latest mailbag, Sam Smith of Bulls.com takes a look at some potential free agent targets for Chicago. Smith writes that if veteran forward Otto Porter opts into his $28MM player option, the Bulls will be over the salary cap. Therefore, the team will likely be out of the running for a top-tier free agent until next offseason. That being said, Smith likes Markieff Morris or Marcus Morris, along with Davis Bertans, and possibly former first-round pick Emmanuel Mudiay.

Eastern Notes: Bertans, Vaughn, Nurse, Antetokounmpo

Wizards forward Davis Bertans‘ decision to pass on the restart was driven by free agency, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Bertans made his comments on the ‘Basketball Network’ show on YouTube.

“I think there were multiple reasons,” the Wizards’ sharpshooter said. “Of course, one of the main ones I guess is that I was an upcoming free agent and we were put in a position as very unlikely to make the playoffs. To risk an injury after not playing basketball and not really working out for almost two months [was not smart]. That was the main reason.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Nets are hopeful that Jacques Vaughn will remain on Steve Nash’s staff even though they passed on making him the permanent head coach, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Vaughn has been identified is a candidate for the Pacers coaching job. The Rockets are also reportedly interested, though the Nets would have to grant those teams permission to interview him.
  • Handing coach Nick Nurse an extension was an important first step during a tricky offseason for the Raptors, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Canada opines. The Raptors need to position themselves for the summer of 2021, when they could chase top free agents. The next step this offseason would be to reach extension agreements with team president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster, Lewenberg adds. Details of Nurse’s multiyear extension can be found here.
  • The safest bet regarding Giannis Antetokounmpo is that he stays put with the Bucks, either through a Designated Veteran Extension this offseason or re-signing on a shorter deal next year, according to Danny Leroux of The Athletic. Leroux looks at all the options and possibilities regarding Antetokounmpo’s future in the wake of the Bucks’ surprisingly early playoff exit.
  • The Raptors will have approximately $45MM to spend on their own free agents or using the mid-level exception before going into the luxury tax, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Murphy takes a closer look at the Raptors’ balance sheet and impending decisions, including Fred VanVleet‘s free agency.

Hawks, Knicks, Suns Expected To Pursue Davis Bertans

The Hawks, Knicks, and Suns are expected to be among the top threats to pry unrestricted free agent Davis Bertans away from the Wizards this offseason, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Atlanta is “shaping up to be particularly aggressive,” Hughes writes.

Bertans opted out of the NBA’s restart due to his history of ACL injuries and a desire to preserve his value for his upcoming free agency. Before that, he had enjoyed a career year in 2019/20 during his first season as a Wizard, averaging a career-best 15.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.7 APG in 54 games (29.3 MPG). The 27-year-old also had his best shooting season, making an impressive 42.4% of 8.7 three-point attempts per game.

Bertans’ rare combination of size and shot-making ability will make him an intriguing target for teams seeking a big man who can stretch the floor. Estimates earlier this season suggested that he may be in line for a deal worth in the range of $15-20MM per year. The coronavirus pandemic has created some uncertainty about teams’ financial situations for next season, but Hughes says league sources still expect Bertans to command a salary in that $15MM+ range.

The Hawks project to have the most cap room of any team this offseason, making them a legit threat to make a run at Bertans. The Knicks could also create significant room, depending on how they handle their numerous veterans with non-guaranteed salaries and team options.

The Suns’ cap outlook is cloudier. They have more guaranteed money on their books than Atlanta or New York, and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said this week during an appearance on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta podcast that there have been rumblings that Phoenix intends to reduce its spending. Windhorst cited the sale of the Suns’ G League franchise to the Pistons as evidence of team owner Robert Sarver clamping down on the team’s expenses.

Of course, the Wizards still may be the frontrunner to retain Bertans. They turned down offers for him at the trade deadline, hold his Bird rights, and have long expressed a desire to bring him back on a new deal. Based on the competition they’ll face though, it sounds like they shouldn’t expect to get him back at a discount.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Brown, Bryant, Bertans, Jones

Jimmy Butler is optimistic that Heat president Pat Riley will lure a quality free agent or two to complete their championship puzzle, he said in an ESPN interview (hat tip to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel). “I think it’ll happen,” Butler said. “Only time will tell. I’m telling you, the organization is really good at getting what they want to win a championship. … And I think, a little Miami sunshine never hurt anybody.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Though the Wizards went 1-7 at the Orlando campus, Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant showed significant growth, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. Brown, the team’s 2018 first-rounder, averaged 15.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 5.0 APG in the last seven seeding games, while Bryant posting averages of 19.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in the same span.
  • Forward Davis Bertans’ free agent status, coach Scott Brooks’ status, and the team’s lottery selection are the biggest offseason issues for the Wizards, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington opines. Bertans sat out the restart, in part to protect his health as he dives into unrestricted free agency.
  • Derrick Jones Jr. suffered a neck strain during the Heat’s final seeding game on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets. Jones was taken off the court in a stretcher during the third quarter after a hard screen by Indiana’s Goga Bitadze. Jones underwent an MRI, CT scan and concussion test, so the diagnosis was a best-case scenario. He’ll be re-evaluated over the weekend.

Haynes’ Latest: Ariza, Blazers, Wizards, Beal, Wall

When Trevor Ariza decided to opt out of the NBA’s restart, he did so because a one-month visitation period with his son overlapped with the Trail Blazers‘ summer schedule. However, as Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports, Ariza’s visitation period was later amended to conclude near the start of August, prompting members of the Blazers to explore the possibility of bringing the veteran forward to the NBA’s Orlando campus.

Unfortunately, the idea was a non-starter, per Haynes, who hears from sources that the Trail Blazers would have to previously apply for a hardship waiver or late-arrival form for Ariza. Even if the team had done so, the NBA would likely have denied any request to clear Ariza, since he voluntarily opted out, wasn’t included on Portland’s restart roster, didn’t travel with the team to Orlando on July 9, and was replaced by substitute player Jaylen Adams.

According to Haynes, the idea of getting Ariza to Orlando was explored in mid-July when players like Zion Williamson and Montrezl Harrell left the NBA’s campus to address family matters. Players within the Trail Blazers organization were “upset” with the outcome of their efforts, sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Here are a few more noteworthy tidbits included in Haynes’ latest article from Orlando:

  • Despite the fact that the Trail Blazers still have an uphill battle to earn a playoff spot in the West, Damian Lillard tells Haynes that he packed for a three-month stay in Orlando and remains confident that Portland can claim the No. 8 seed. “We came here thinking 6-2, or 7-1 and that would get us in there,” Lillard said. “That’s where our heads are at and we can still do that.”
  • Although Bradley Beal, John Wall, and Davis Bertans aren’t with the Wizards in Orlando, they’re watching practices and continue to participate in team meetings, sources tell Haynes. The team has set up live streams of practices and meetings for players and staff who aren’t on the Orlando campus, Haynes notes.
  • According to Haynes, Beal has made an effort to check in with Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard anytime he misses a meeting or practice in order to catch up. Both Wall and Beal have “been in the ears” of Washington’s young players during the restart, Haynes adds.

Wizards Notes: Restart, Schofield, Wall, Wade

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard vows that the team is focused on making the playoffs despite key players missing the restart in Orlando, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets.

“Certainly, we’re going there to win games,” he said. “We’re trying to make the playoffs. That’s 100 percent our goal.”

There has been speculation that Wizards would treat their eight “seeding” games as a de facto Summer League. Forward Davis Bertans, a free agent after the season, has chosen to sit out. Star guard John Wall will wait until next season to return from his Achilles injury. Washington trails Brooklyn by six games and Orlando by 5.5 games and needs to pull within four games of one of those teams to force a play-in round for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Rookie Admiral Schofield is expected to have an expanded role in Orlando with Bertans choosing not to play, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets“There’s going to be an opportunity at some point for Admiral to show what he can do,” Sheppard said. Schofield has appeared in 27 games, averaging 3.1 PPG in 10.9 MPG.
  • Wall will stay in Miami while the Wizards are in Orlando to work with some coaches that won’t be in the bubble, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. The lack of practices during the stoppage of play cost Wall the basketball ramp-up timing he’d been gaining in workouts, according to Sheppard.
  • Washington had some interest in signing power forward Dean Wade, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Wade agreed to a four-year contract with Cleveland on Monday.

Southeast Notes: Fournier, Bertans, Gordon

Evan Fournier is not a fan of Wizards forward Davis Bertans sitting out of the NBA’s return. The Magic wing tweeted, “This is what’s wrong with the NBA nowadays” in response to the report that Bertans wasn’t going to Orlando.

Seriously tho. If you think its ok to sit and watch your teammates play while you re perfectly healthy its says a lot about you,” Fournier continued in a second tweet.

Bertans, who is one of multiple NBA players expected to sit out the resumed season in Florida, will be a free agent at the end of the season, though the Magic are not expected to have the cap space to make a reasonable offer to the 27-year-old power forward, so Fournier will not have to worry about Bertans joining his team.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat swingman Derrick Jones plans to play when the NBA returns, as Anthony Chang of The Miami Herald relays. Jones will hit free agency after the season and figures to be in line for a significant raise after earning the minimum during his first four NBA seasons.
  • Trading Aaron Gordon for a perimeter threat could be the best way to maximize the talent on the Magic, John Hollinger writes for The Athletic. Trading away Gordon would allow Jonathan Isaac more playing time.
  • Clint Capela, who was traded to the Hawks at the trade deadline, recently spoke about what it takes to win in the league, which is something he’ll look to help his young teammates learn. “The main goal is really to be a winning team, have this winning mentality, be able to night in, night out go get wins,” Capela said (via Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “…It doesn’t matter if you play good or bad, but you have to have that dog mentality to make stops, to at least get a win.” 

Wizards Look To Sign Bertans Replacement

The Wizards plan to add a player to replace forward Davis Bertans on the roster when the season resumes in Orlando, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports.

Bertans, an unrestricted free agent after the season, has decided not to suit up during the restart. Washington will look for a player who could prove useful in Orlando and thus have ruled out DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his ACL in August and was waived by the Lakers in February. Cousins is still rehabbing the injury.

The Wizards won’t necessarily sign a stretch four to fortify that spot. They could sign a 3-point shooter at another position, Hughes continues. Rookie Rui Hachimura will see his offensive role expands in Bertans’ absence, Hughes adds.

Bertans’ agent, Arturs Kalnitis, told Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype that Bertans reached his decision in recent days.

“To be completely honest, Davis was prepared to play and then he made a last-minute decision to sit out,” Kalnitis said. “We’re playing the cards that we were dealt. When the NBA announced that players who sit out wouldn’t face consequences and would just lose one percent of their salary for each game missed, we sat down to discuss this. Davis is about to sign the biggest deal of his life, so he would be taking a big risk by playing.”

Bertans has battled ACL injuries during his career but Kalnitis said the possibility of injury after a long layoff was just one of the factors that led to his client’s decision.

“The injury risk played a role in Davis’ decision, but it wasn’t the only factor,” Kalnitis told Kennecdy. “I haven’t mentioned this before, but Davis has an insurance policy that kicked in at the start of the season so if he gets injured, he has a big, fat check coming his way. So, it wasn’t just the injury risk.”

Davis Bertans To Sit Out NBA Restart

Wizards forward Davis Bertans has decided to sit out when the NBA resumes its season next month, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim Bontemps of ESPN (via Twitter).

As Wojnarowski notes, Bertans has suffered a pair of ACL injuries in the past and will be entering free agency this offseason on the heels of a career year. It’s not clear whether Bertans has any additional safety concerns related to COVID-19, but if he suffers an injury this summer, it could diminish his value as he seeks a new contract in the coming months.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that – with or without Bertans – the Wizards aren’t exactly championship contenders. Already missing star point guard John Wall, Washington will enter the restart trailing the Magic for the No. 8 seed in the East by 5.5 games. In order to earn a playoff spot, the Wizards would have to gain at least two games on Orlando or Brooklyn during the eight seeding contests, then win two consecutive games in a play-in tournament.

According to Wojnarowski, the Wizards “fully support” Bertans’ decision, which is viewed as a preventative measure. The veteran sharpshooter is still expected to participate in pre-Orlando training with the team, Woj adds.

Bertans, 27, averaged a career-best 15.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.7 APG in 54 games (29.3 MPG) during his first season as a Wizard, making an impressive 42.4% of 8.7 three-point attempts per game. The Wizards, who turned down offers for Bertans at the trade deadline in February, view re-signing him as a top offseason priority, says Wojnarowski.

As for the short term, the Wizards will be eligible to sign a substitute player to replace Bertans in Orlando, without needing to open up a roster spot for that replacement. Once the franchise signs a substitute, Bertans would become ineligible to return this season.

Bertans will also forfeit 1/92.6th of his salary for each game he misses this summer — based on his $7MM salary for 2019/20, that would normally work out to about $605K for eight games. However, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that the actual figure will likely be close to $520K, since it will take into account previous reductions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Wizards, Bertans, Hawks

Magic head coach Steve Clifford knows his team is going to need some time to get back in shape in the event that the NBA resumes the season, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.

“This is going to be, whatever, six, seven weeks for these guys having not touched a basketball,” Clifford said. “Look, I played Division III [basketball]. I don’t think in my life I ever went six weeks without doing that,” Clifford said. “I think that you can guess, and then when you take that [layoff] and try to envision an NBA game, or an NBA playoff game, it’s going to take some time for sure.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton would be a good fit with the Wizards. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports contends. The 6’5″ guard has a chance to go in the top five of the upcoming NBA Draft.
  • Hughes (in a separate piece), examines Davis Bertans‘ first season with the Wizards. Bertans, who was traded to the team last summer, told Hughes that he felt like he fit in with the team “right away,” and suggested he’d be a good fit with John Wall if he were to re-sign with the club this offseason.
  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic takes a look at a handful of possible free agent targets for the Hawks this summer. Brandon Ingram would be a great addition for the club, though he is a restricted free agent and New Orleans is likely to match any offer.