Davis Bertans

Southeast Notes: Wizards Preview, Avdija, Cooper, Hornets Injuries

In his ongoing series of team previews, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes that the Wizards might not be a better overall team this season than they were in 2020/21, but he thinks they’re in a decent position to build around star Bradley Beal going forward.

By moving John Wall for Russell Westbrook, and then trading Westbrook to the Lakers, the Wizards acquired multiple players on smaller deals with less guaranteed money, thus gaining financial flexibility for 2022/23.

Hollinger identifies one area the team should definitely be improved: three-point shooting. The Wizards were dead last in three-point attempts per 100 possessions last season, even with renowned shooters Beal and Davis Bertans. New additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (.410 3PT%), Kyle Kuzma (.361), and Aaron Holiday (.368) all shot better than the Wizards’ team mark (.351) last season, and rookie Corey Kispert was considered one of the best pure shooters in the draft.

However, Hollinger thinks the team might regress defensively, as Bertans and Montrezl Harrell are both poor defenders who figure to see a good chunk of minutes together.

Hollinger projects the team to finish 38-44, 10th in the East, but thinks they’ll have their work cut out for them to actually hit that mark.

Here’s more from out of the Southeast:

  • Second-year forward Deni Avdija made his long-awaited return from a fractured ankle in Saturday’s preseason game, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards are high on Avdija and he’s expected to have more play-making opportunities this season, Hughes adds.
  • Hawks rookie Sharife Cooper is having an impressive preseason, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Cooper, the 48th pick in the draft, is on a two-way contract, and coach Nate McMillan likes what he’s seen so far, per Spencer. “I love the energy that he’s bringing,” McMillan said of Cooper. “He’s scrappy. He’s playing scrappy basketball out there. He’s trying to make a statement. He’s stepping up, and he’s not pacing himself.”
  • In two separate tweets, the Hornets announced Terry Rozier sprained his ankle and will be re-evaluated later in the week, while Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee are both out for tomorrow’s game at Miami due to health and safety protocols.

Southeast Notes: Bertans, Magic, Kreutzer, Murphy, Hawks

Having acquired Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma in a trade with the Lakers and used their first-round pick to draft Corey Kispert, the Wizards should have a few more outside shooting threats in 2021/22 than they did a year ago. However, that doesn’t mean Davis Bertans has become expendable, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

As Hughes outlines, the Wizards will still have several players in their rotation who won’t effectively stretch the floor, and there’s no guarantee Kispert will be a reliable contributor right away as a rookie. Throw in the fact that Washington ranked 28th in the NBA last season in three-pointers made, and it’s clear the team isn’t in position to get rid of any shooters — especially one like Bertans, whose contract would be hard to trade, and who made 39.5% of his three-point attempts even in a down year in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • If everyone on the Magic‘s roster is fully healthy to start the 2021/22 season, Josh Robbins of The Athletic thinks Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac would be the only two players assured of a spot in the starting lineup. Robbins views Wendell Carter as the most likely starter at center, with Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs in the mix for the point guard spot. Both Fultz and Suggs could theoretically start if Orlando is comfortable with a three-guard lineup, Robbins notes.
  • The Magic are retaining Bruce Kreutzer and Dylan Murphy to be part of Jamahl Mosley‘s new coaching staff, reports Robbins (Twitter links). Both Kreutzer and Murphy served under Steve Clifford for the last three seasons in Orlando.
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Chris Kirschner addresses a handful of Hawks-related questions, including inquiries on whether Atlanta is a realistic suitor for Ben Simmons, what the team’s chances are of repeating its 2021 playoff success, and what the roles Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter will play going forward. Kirschner likes the idea of pursuing Simmons if the price is fair and he’s willing to play a position besides point guard.

Wizards Notes: Bertans, Avdija, New Additions, M. Williams

Despite the Wizards‘ rather substantial logjam at the power forward spot, Davis Bertans is unlikely to be traded anytime soon, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic in today’s mailbag.

Katz cautions Wizards fans that between Bertans’ contract – which has four years and $65MM remaining (final year partially guaranteed) – and the team’s 2023 pick being owned by the Thunder and protected to 2026, the avenues for moving the sweet-shooting Latvian would be incredibly limited.

However, there’s reason for optimism regarding Bertans, Katz writes. The 28-year-old started last season behind the eight-ball from a health standpoint and never fully got up to speed, which could be one reason for his up-and-down year. A more egalitarian offense, spearheaded by the Spencer Dinwiddie/Bradley Beal backcourt and masterminded by new coach Wes Unseld Jr. should also allow Bertans more freedom to get loose for the types of shots that earned him his five-year extension during the 2019/20 season.

We have more news from around the Wizards:

  • In the same piece, Katz writes that though last year’s number nine pick Deni Avdija may be set to play fewer minutes this season, he should be used more as a play-maker, as most of the players on the bench are either catch-and-shoot specialists (Corey Kispert/Bertans), finishers (Montrezl Harrell), or are more comfortable off the ball (Raul Neto/Aaron Holiday). How Unseld will divide the minutes between the forwards remains unclear, but Avdija brings a unique skillset to the frontcourt rotation.
  • The Wizards will be Beal’s team like never before, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Luckily, Hughes writes, the team has rebuilt itself in a way that should complement its star well. Hughes examines how the team’s additions will booster its once-anemic defense while adding depth and shooting on the offensive end. But for it to work, Hughes says that guys like Dinwiddie, Rui Hachimura and Kyle Kuzma will have to emerge as consistent scorers who can create offense for themselves when called upon.
  • Mike Williams has been named head coach of the Wizards G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, per a team press release. Williams, who spent last season as a development coach for the Wizards and the director of player development for the Go-Go, expressed his excitement at the new role. “I look forward to leading our development and instilling the new philosophies of Coach Unseld into the Go-Go as we return playing in front of our great fans at the Entertainment and Sports Arena this season,” Williams said.

Southeast Notes: Bertans, Wright, Dieng, Ball, Heat

The Wizards have plenty of options at the forward spots and that makes it difficult to project what will happen with Davis Bertans, Fred Katz of The Athletic notes. Bertans had a disappointing season after being re-signed on a five-year, $80MM contract. If Bertans drains 3-pointers at a prolific rate, he’ll play regularly. But if he gets off to a slow start, Washington will have a difficult decision to make regarding the highly-paid stretch four.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Summertime acquisitions Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng project to play on the Hawks’ second unit, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic says in his look at the team’s likely depth chart. De’Andre Hunter is tentatively penciled in as the starting small forward, though his meniscus surgery in June could alter that.
  • LaMelo Ball took an unusual path to the NBA, leaving high school to play professionally in Lithuania and Australia before he was drafted. He has no regrets about that strategy, Scott Gleeson of USA Today relays from a GQ interview with the Hornets point guard. “You want go to the league, so school’s not your priority,” he said. “We not trippin’ off school. … We don’t need school.”
  • The Heat have a reputation for developing unheralded and undrafted players, prompting Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald to take a closer look at their program.

Wizards Rumors: Dinwiddie, Kuzma, Harrell, No. 15 Pick, Bertans

With Russell Westbrook gone from the Wizards, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is interested in taking his place, according to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype. Washington would probably have to work out a sign-and-trade to land Dinwiddie, but it’s one of the destinations the free agent is considering.

Dinwiddie likes the idea of playing in the same backcourt with Bradley Beal, Scotto adds, along with the potential of Rui Hachimura and the idea of living in Washington. Dinwiddie believes he can help the Wizards return to the playoffs and that he can recruit other players to the team.

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, who are both headed to Washington in the Westbrook deal, are considered potential assets that can be used to acquire Dinwiddie, tweets Wizards insider Quinton Mayo.
  • Washington has gotten calls from the Hawks and Jazz about the 15th pick, Mayo adds (Twitter link). The team landed pick No. 22 in the deal with the Lakers, so their own selection may be available.
  • The Wizards have made Davis Bertans available in trade talks, a source tells Mayo (Twitter link). Bertans is coming off a down season, as his scoring average declined from 15.4 to 11.5 points per game and his three-point shooting dropped from 42.4% to 39.5%. He signed a five-year, $80MM contract last offseason.

Davis Bertans Out 4-6 Weeks Due To Calf Strain

An MRI conducted on Davis Bertans‘ injured right calf revealed a Grade 2 strain, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Bertans will require four-to-six weeks to recover from the injury.

It’s bad news for the Wizards and for the veteran forward, who suffered the injury in Monday’s win over Philadelphia after scoring 15 points in just 23 minutes. However, given that Washington is down 3-1 in the series, it may not have mattered if Bertans had just been ruled out for a few days rather than for a few weeks — his season would likely be over either way.

Still, considering the Sixers are dealing with an important injury of their own – Joel Embiid (knee) is also undergoing an MRI today – the door is slightly ajar for the Wizards to make the series interesting. If they’re going to do so, they’ll have to lean on power forward Rui Hachimura to play an increased role. While he’ll be hard-pressed to replicate Bertans’ floor-spacing ability, Hachimura has knocked down 8-of-12 threes through four games.

After signing a five-year, $80MM contract last offseason, Bertans had an up-and-down 2020/21 season. In 57 games (25.7 MPG), he recorded 11.5 PPG on .404/.395/.870 shooting, which represented a dip in his production from ’19/20. He should be fully healthy well in advance of the start of the second season of that five-year deal.

Injury Notes: Embiid, Bertans, Celtics, CP3

As we relayed on Monday evening, Sixers center Joel Embiid left Game 4 vs. Washington due to right knee soreness after playing just 11 minutes. After the game, head coach Doc Rivers said that Embiid would undergo an MRI on the injured knee on Tuesday, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Rivers was unsure whether Embiid would be available for Game 5 on Wednesday.

While the Sixers will need a healthy Embiid to make a serious run at the NBA Finals, the club is confident that it can win one more game against the Wizards and advance to the second round with or without its All-Star center.

“We’re going to need him to be the last team standing, to win,” Sixers guard Danny Green said, per Windhorst. “It doesn’t mean we can’t win the next game without him.”

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Wizards forward Davis Bertans was having his best game of the playoffs on Monday before a right calf strain forced him to exit the game early. It’s the same injury that sidelined him for two weeks in March, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, who reports that Bertans will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.
  • The Celtics have listed Kemba Walker (left knee bone bruise) and Robert Williams (left ankle sprain) as doubtful for Game 5 on Tuesday. If Walker and Williams don’t play in tonight’s game, their seasons may be over, since Boston is on the brink of elimination, down 3-1 to Brooklyn.
  • Suns guard Chris Paul (right shoulder contusion) “didn’t do a ton” at Monday’s practice, according to head coach Monty Williams, but it was a light day of work in general for the team (Twitter link via Gina Mizell). Paul is listed as probable for Game 5 on Tuesday and seems very likely to suit up.
  • In case you missed it, All-Star Lakers big man Anthony Davis (left groin strain) is considered unlikely to be available for Game 5 vs. Phoenix. He’s officially listed as questionable.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Beal, Bertans, Gafford

Russell Westbrook was a game-time decision Saturday because of an ankle sprain he suffered in Game 2, but his Wizards teammates never had any doubt that he would be ready, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Westbrook not only played, he recorded his 11th playoff triple-double, posting 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to the Sixers.

I know Russ. If it’s not broke, he’s going to play,” Bradley Beal said. “So, I’m gonna be honest, I kind of knew after the last game he was going to play. Just knowing who he is, if he could play for two minutes then he was going to go out there and give it everything he had.”

Westbrook said after the game that his ankle felt “so-so” and he “just tried to go out and do what I can.” His status for Monday night’s Game 4 hasn’t been determined.

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Beal has taken a major step this season in proving he can be a franchise player, according to Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post. Beal has been moving in that direction for years, but his status became clearer with the trade of John Wall. “I take pride in getting better each and every game and, obviously, in the offseason getting better,” Beal said. “… Coach trusts me, teammates and the organization trusts me to just continue to lead and kind of be the franchise focal point. Obviously, I still have a long way to go and still have a lot of room to go. But I’m definitely not the same player I was two years ago in that series.”
  • The Wizards moved Davis Bertans into the starting lineup to provide more size against a taller Philadelphia team, but his shooting woes prevented that move from being effective, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Bertans is normally one of the league’s most dangerous three-point threats, but he made just one of five shots from long distance in Game 3 after missing all four attempts in Game 2.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid is putting up dominant numbers in the first-round series after being an MVP candidate during the regular season. It’s a tough matchup for Daniel Gafford, but coach Scott Brooks believes the experience will benefit the young center in the long run, Hughes tweets.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Collins, Bertans, Magic

After initially straining his hamstring just under two weeks ago, Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal braced himself to play through the injury in this week’s play-in tournament, writes David Aldridge of The Athletic.

“I’m a strider,” Beal said on Monday, in advance of the Wizards’ eventual 118-100 blowout play-in loss to the Celtics yesterday. “It restricts a lot of my movements, for sure. But when you’re … on the court you find ways to manage it. You’re in control of a lot of stuff. The reactionary stuff, you’re not, especially like on defense and things like that. But the things you can’t control, you try not to put yourself in harm’s way.”

The Wizards will play the Pacers tomorrow for the No. 8 seed in the East.

There’s more out of the Southeast:

  • Hawks power forward John Collins, a restricted free agent this summer, can help secure himself a huge payday with a strong performance against Knicks All-Star Julius Randle in Atlanta’s first-round matchup, writes Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Collins has stepped up in a crucial season, proving his mettle on both sides of the ball, though Cunningham notes that the stretch four can still afford to develop as a ball-handler. “If I know one thing, I am going to watch a lot of (game) film, get my body ready and I’m going to be laser-focused,” Collins said of his preparation for the upcoming series. “I don’t necessarily think I have anything to prove, but I’m coming to compete.”
  • Candace Buckner of the Washington Post asserts that, in order to win their second play-in game and qualify for the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Wizards will need to get more offense from power forward Davis Bertans, who is in the first year of a costly $80MM deal he signed during the 2020 offseason.
  • Magic team president Jeff Weltman discussed Orlando’s offseason roster-building plans ahead with a loaded NBA draft looming, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Weltman alluded to prioritizing the best player available over fit with the current young roster ahead of the draft, in which the Magic could very well have two lottery picks. “The draft is about talent,” Weltman said. “You always ask ‘fit or best talent.’ We’re in a great position right now. We’re not going to have 15 players 23 and under. We’ll add some vets to help us grow. We don’t even know if we’ll have one or two (lottery) picks yet.”

Davis Bertans Expected To Miss Two Weeks

Wizards forward Davis Bertans is expected to miss two weeks after suffering a right calf strain, according to a team press release.

An MRI on Friday revealed the extent of the injury, which he suffered against Utah on Thursday.

Bertans was one of the biggest free agent signings during the offseason, as Washington lavished the stretch four with a five-year, $80MM contract to retain his services.

Bertans picked a good time to have a career year last season, averaging a career-high 15.4 PPG and 4.5 RPG while shooting 42.4% from 3-point range. In 35 games this season, he’s averaging 10.8 PPG and 2.9 RPG while making 38.2% of his threes.

Bertans had a 35-point game in mid-February but he’s struggled lately, scoring in single digits the last four games. Rookie Deni Avdija and Isaac Bonga should see an uptick in minutes with Bertans sidelined.