Deni Avdija

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: Avdija, Dinwiddie, Ball, Heat, Magic

Wizards forward Deni Avdija, who fractured his right ankle in April, participated in 5-on-5 scrimmages on Monday for the first time during his recovery process, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The team is hoping Avdija will be able to return to the court during the preseason, perhaps as soon as Saturday.

Meanwhile, another player coming off a major injury – Spencer Dinwiddie – is making a strong early impression with his new club. Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said on Tuesday that he has been “pleasantly surprised” with how Dinwiddie looks this fall, suggesting that the veteran point guard appears “he’s back to normal” following his partial ACL tear last December (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • LaMelo Ball looks fully healthy after dealing with a wrist injury at the end of last season, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, who notes that the Hornets have inserted Miles Bridges into their starting lineup this season at least in part to take advantage of the chemistry between him and Ball.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic was surprised that the win-now Heat weren’t more willing to cross the luxury tax line this offseason, pointing out that they could’ve given free agent guard Kendrick Nunn the same deal he got from the Lakers and remained below the hard cap. As Hollinger outlines, Miami could avoid the tax this season and next, but project to be a taxpayer in 2023/24 if Tyler Herro is extended.
  • The Magic started rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner alongside veterans Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, and Wendell Carter in their first preseason game on Monday, but head coach Jamahl Mosley said that won’t necessarily be the same group that opens the regular season as the team’s starting five. “The way I try to look at it in this instance was, because it’s an extension of training camp, I’m just going to try looking at different lineups,” Mosley said, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “So it was treating it similar to a practice: We’d have different lineups going against one another, different combinations.”

Wizards Notes: Bryant, Avdija, Sheppard, Unseld Jr.

Wizards center Thomas Bryant is expected to return “sometime in December,” according to general manager Tommy Sheppard, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Bryant suffered a torn ACL in January after appearing in 10 games last season. Sheppard’s comment aligns with the projected timeline for Bryant’s recovery. When Bryant returns, he’ll look to regain his starting job. Daniel Gafford will start the season at center, backed up by Montrezl Harrell.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Second-year forward Deni Avdija will have some limitations heading into training camp, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. He’ll be held out of scrimmages with teammates in the lead-up to camp. Avdija fractured his right ankle in April. “We’ll ease Deni in and continue to monitor day-to-day,” Sheppard said. “He’s doing everything full speed, he just hasn’t been jumping in the scrimmages quite yet. I think a lot of that is just being overly cautious to make sure there’s no setbacks.”
  • Sheppard said he focused on improving the team’s shooting with his offseason moves and that will give new coach Wes Unseld Jr. plenty of late-game options, Jackson Filyo of the team’s website relays. “We constructed this roster to make sure we have plenty of shooting at every position,” he said. “When you look at competition, it’s going to be whoever is hot that game is going to finish games…Competition for minutes is a healthy thing.”
  • Unseld is energized by the versatility on the roster, according to Filyo. “You have so many options. You can play small, you can play big, you can bump guys down, you have multiple ballhandlers who can create and finish,” he said. “Obviously, the amount of shooting we can put on the floor is a tremendous dynamic to have. It gives you a lot of flexibility. It also allows you defensively to do a lot of things.”

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.

Wizards Notes: Dinwiddie, Bryant, Holiday, Hachimura, Avdija

Speaking today to reporters, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said that Spencer Dinwiddie is further along in his recovery from an ACL tear than Thomas Bryant is, as Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Dinwiddie sustained a partially torn ACL in late December, while Bryant suffered the same injury just a couple weeks later.

According to Sheppard, Dinwiddie is on track to progress to 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 scrimmages, while Bryant has not been fully cleared for basketball activities yet.

I can’t see Thomas necessarily being in our first game,” Sheppard said.

A previous report indicated that the Wizards may be targeting a December return for Bryant.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Sheppard confirmed a report that the Wizards tried to trade for Aaron Holiday in the past before acquiring him this offseason. “Usually, trade deadline calls, trades that don’t work out kinda resurface in the summer,” Sheppard said (Twitter link via Katz).
  • Sheppard was asked today about whether the roles for young forwards Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija will changes in 2021/22 as a result of the Wizards’ influx of depth. As Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays (via Twitter), the Wizards’ GM said he thinks Hachimura will remain in the starting lineup, but Avdija – who started 32 of his 54 games as a rookie – is more likely to be part of the second unit.
  • Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, acquired from the Lakers in the Russell Westbrook blockbuster, will bring specific skill sets to a revamped Wizards roster, writes Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post. Caldwell-Pope, in particular, is the kind of three-and-D wing the team has been lacking.

Wizards Notes: Trade Negotiations, Dinwiddie, Kuzma, Neto, Avdija

The Nets, who recognized that Bradley Beal wanted the Wizards to acquire Spencer Dinwiddie and knew they had some leverage in sign-and-trade talks, initially asked Washington for a first-round pick, reports Fred Katz of The Athletic. When they were unsuccessful, the Nets tried to get Washington to part with Deni Avdija or Rui Hachimura, according to Katz.

However, the Wizards held firm in those negotiations and ended up keeping their top assets, instead sending Brooklyn a future second-round pick and a second-round pick swap. The Nets will also generate an $11.5MM trade exception in the deal.

As Katz details, the Wizards also had to sweeten the deal for the Lakers to convince them to loop the Russell Westbrook trade agreement into Washington’s acquisition of Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade, which is why L.A. will be receiving three second-round selections from the Wizards instead of just two.

Finally, Katz reports that the final version of the complex five-team trade will see the Wizards acquire cash considerations from the Pacers. The full breakdown of the trade agreement can be seen on our offseason trade tracker.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • For much of this week, there had been a league-wide assumption that the Wizards may end up rerouting Kyle Kuzma to a new team as part of the Dinwiddie deal, but Washington never included him in trade discussions, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who notes that the club has significantly improved its depth with this week’s roster moves.
  • Raul Neto‘s new deal with the Wizards will be a one-year, minimum-salary contract, according to Katz. Neto will join Dinwiddie and Aaron Holiday on the club’s point guard depth chart.
  • Although Deni Avdija has been cleared for basketball activities, he’s not playing for the Wizards in Summer League, writes Katz. The club wants to limit the risk of a setback for 2020’s lottery pick, who is recovering from a right fibular hairline fracture.

Eastern Rumors: Dinwiddie, Wizards, Avdija, Oladipo, Knicks, Bitadze

The Wizards continue to work through their complicated sign-and-trade acquisition of Spencer Dinwiddie, according to multiple reports.

Quinton Mayo (Twitter link) has heard the Bulls and Thunder mentioned as teams that could end up getting involved in a multi-team trade involving Dinwiddie. Mayo also reports that the Nets asked the Wizards for Deni Avdija during those negotiations, which Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News (twitter link) corroborates.

If and when the Wizards, Nets, and other potential trade partners figure out a deal, Dinwiddie is expected to get a three-year, $62MM deal from Washington, reports Winfield (Twitter link).

Here are a few more updates from around the East:

  • Although Victor Oladipo‘s camp is optimistic that he’ll be able to return to action sometime between late December and early February, some Heat people believe March is a more realistic target, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Oladipo, who underwent quad tendon surgery in May, agreed to a minimum-salary contract with Miami.
  • Following up on an Ian Begley report that stated the final year in the Knicks‘ deals with Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Evan Fournier aren’t guaranteed, ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link) clarifies that all four deals are expected to have standard team options in their last years. Noel, Burks, and Rose will have those options in year three, while Fournier’s will be in year four.
  • Pacers big man Goga Bitadze wanted to play for the team in Summer League this month, but he missed Indiana’s first two SL practices due to back soreness and is now away from the club due to a personal matter, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Trade Rumors: Rubio, Ball, Knicks, Wizards, Simmons

Ricky Rubio is busy playing the point for Spain in the Olympics but a number of NBA teams are doing due diligence on a potential trade for the veteran point man, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. The Celtics, Clippers and Lakers are keeping tabs on the Timberwolves guard. Rubio has a $17.8MM expiring contract for next season.

We have more trade chatter from around the league:

  • The Pelicans and Pacers discussed a Lonzo Ball deal, Ian Begley of SNY.TV reports, though it’s unknown if those talks ever reached an advanced level. Ball will be a free agent, so a deal would only be possible via sign-and-trade.
  • In the same piece, Begley writes that the Knicks plan to maintain enough cap flexibility to pursue top free agents in 2022, a class that could include Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.
  • The Wizards have received calls on their best young players, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. Those players are presumably Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and Deni Avdija. The front office could be motivated to move one or more of those players to appease Beal in a win-now scenario.
  • There’s been plenty of speculation about a potential Ben Simmons trade. The latest from Mark Medina of USA Today (Twitter link) is that the Sixers are looking either for an All-Star talent in return or a starting-caliber player along with multiple draft picks.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Draft, Avdija, Staff, Future

Bradley Beal has not requested a trade, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard confirmed today, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Reports surfaced over the weekend that Beal was pondering whether to make a trade request this week, which would have given the Wizards a chance to acquire picks in Thursday’s draft. However, Beal never made that request, according to multiple reports.

We have more from Sheppard’s press conference on Wednesday:

  • The team owns a mid-first round selection at No. 15 but does not currently possess a second-rounder on Thursday. That may change, as Sheppard said the Wizards “definitely want to get something in the second round,” according to Katz (Twitter link).
  • Sheppard used the old “best player available” line regarding the first-round pick, saying the club isn’t necessarily looking for the player who will make the biggest immediate impact, Katz tweets.
  • Last year’s lottery pick, Deni Avdija, has been cleared for on-court play and will begin contact work in a couple of weeks. Sheppard said the Wizards will wait to see if Avdija, who suffered a right ankle fracture in April, will play for the Summer League team (Katz, Twitter link).
  • New head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will have the most of the input on putting together his staff (Katz, Twitter link).
  • Sheppard doesn’t necessarily believe he has to compromise the team’s future to build a contender for next season. “I think there’s ways to get better next season and to have something in the bank to improve in the outer year,” he said. (Katz, Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Avdija, Young, Huerter, Dedmon

The Wizards never really found out what rookie Deni Avdija could add as a secondary playmaker in his rookie season, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. Avdija’s rookie campaign was cut short by a right fibular hairline fracture.

Avdija didn’t have many ball-handling opportunities starting alongside Wizards stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. Avdija ascended in last year’s draft as a top-10 selection due to his passing skills, but Washington didn’t get a full picture of what the Israeli forward could produce long-term in that area as the team heads into a crucial offseason, Katz adds.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Grade 2 ankle sprain that Trae Young is dealing with typically takes about two-to-four weeks to heal, says Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The high-scoring Hawks point guard suffered the injury against the Knicks on Wednesday. Spencer consulted Dr. Kenneth Jung, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, to come up with a projected recovery period for Young.
  • Even though the Hawks spent a lot of money to bring in sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter felt he could slide into a variety of roles. Huerter spoke to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic about how his season has gone. “I’ve been in the starting lineup. I’ve been out of the starting lineup,” he said. “My minutes have been up and down. You go into the day and treat it the same. You’re always ready and available. You have to have that approach.” Huerter is eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to the start of next season.
  • Dewayne Dedmon has given a nice boost to the Heat‘s frontcourt since he signed with them earlier this month, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The 31-year-old center is averaging 7.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 13.8 MPG while appearing in four contests.