Isaac Bonga

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.

Wizards Rumors: Brown, Drummond, Mathews, Bell, More

While Bradley Beal remains extremely unlikely to be traded within the next nine days, that doesn’t mean the Wizards will stand pat at this month’s trade deadline. According to Fred Katz and David Aldridge of The Athletic, league sources have suggested that Washington appears open to moving young players like Troy Brown, Moritz Wagner, Jerome Robinson, and Isaac Bonga.

All of those players are between 21 and 24 years old and are on relatively inexpensive contracts, but they’ve been in and out of the rotation this season and aren’t particularly valuable trade assets. Of the four, Brown probably has the most appeal. One executive told Katz and Aldridge that the Wizrads could probably get a “second-round-equivalent asset” for the former 15th overall pick.

“My guess is an early second(-rounder) and/or a decent young player,” another executive said. “I’m sure they’d like more, but not sure those guys have much more value than that at this point.”

Here’s more on the Wizards from Katz and Aldridge:

  • Although a quad injury will keep Ish Smith on the shelf through the trade deadline, one opposing GM thinks the point guard could have a little trade value to any team “looking to add veteran pace to its second unit.”
  • The Wizards are keeping an eye on Cavaliers center Andre Drummond as a possible buyout target, sources tell The Athletic. Drummond would probably prefer a contending team in that scenario, but Washington could pique his interest by using its $4.2MM disabled player exception to offer more than the veteran’s minimum.
  • Since players on two-way contracts can now appear in all 72 games and are eligible to play in the postseason, there’s less urgency to convert Garrison Mathews to a standard contract. Still, he’s a candidate to be promoted to the 15-man roster, especially if the Wizards can lock him up to a multiyear deal. In that scenario, Jordan Bell would be a leading contender to fill Mathews’ vacated two-way slot, per Katz and Aldridge.
  • According to The Athletic’s duo, one obstacle that could complicate the Wizards’ pursuit of Drummond or negotiations with Mathews is the club’s desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold — team salary is currently within $1MM of that line, though certain trades could create more breathing room.

Southeast Notes: Bonga, Dunn, Bogdanovic, Herro, Robinson

Wizards forward Isaac Bonga got benched on Thursday after starting the first four games and coach Scott Brooks said it was simply a numbers game, Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington writes. With Rui Hachimura returning from an eye injury and reclaiming his usual spot in the lineup, Brooks had to choose between Bonga and Troy Brown as the backup. He chose Brown. “We’re trying to find minutes for Troy (Brown Jr.) and Bonga, and (Thursday) it was Troy, but who knows who it will be (Friday) night,” Brooks said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said he had promising reports regarding guard Kris Dunn‘s arthroscopic right ankle surgery on Tuesday, according to Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dunn is wearing a walking boot and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The former Bull has yet to make his Atlanta debut. “It sounds as if everything went well, as well as the surgery can go, and he’s staying here at the hotel,” Pierce said. “But he’s post-op and laying low.”
  • Hawks free agent acquisition Bogdan Bogdanovic has averaged 15.3 PPG on 42.9% shooting from deep but Pierce says his value goes beyond perimeter shooting, Spencer writes in a separate story. “He hasn’t had any bad games,” Pierce said. “Bad games aren’t ‘make or miss.’ He’s taking those shots, I’ll live with them…. I trust his work. I’ve been praising the fact that he’s probably our hardest post-practice worker.”
  • Would the combination of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson be enough to satisfy the Rockets in a potential deal with the Heat for James Harden? Not even close, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Houston wants “significantly more than that” for Harden, sources inform Jackson.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Bertans, Lopez, Westbrook, More

Ensuring that Bradley Beal wants to remain in Washington was a top priority for the Wizards as they made their offseason moves, including the blockbuster trade that brought Russell Westbrook to D.C. So did the acquisition of Westbrook have an impact on Beal’s desire to stick with the team?

“Honestly, I haven’t even thought about that. I haven’t,” Beal said, per Fred Katz of The Athletic. “My biggest thing is win now, you know? I wanna win.

“I’m here under contract for this year, next year and a player option, too. So, it’s just a matter of, we gotta win. And the organization knows that. It’s up to me, too, so I can’t just sit here and … look at (general manager Tommy Sheppard) like he’s crazy. I have to go out and lead the team, put in the work and get better every day and bring the results.”

As Katz writes, the Wizards have a tricky tightrope to walk, as they focus not only on building a roster capable of long-term success, but also on winning enough in the next year or two to convince Beal that he doesn’t need to move to a new team to contend.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Davis Bertans and Robin Lopez haven’t yet been able to join the Wizards for practice, tweets Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Bertans was held up by visa issues, according to Wallace, who notes that the team also had one of its new players test positive for the coronavirus. There hasn’t been confirmation that the affected player was Lopez, but it sounds like that’s very possible.
  • The Wizards are counting on point guard Russell Westbrook, who is known for his competitiveness and tenacity, to help set the culture for their young roster, Wallace writes for The Washington Post.
  • Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said today that the starting small forward position will be “fluid,” with Troy Brown, Isaac Bonga, Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, and Jerome Robinson all among the options there, per Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Brooks also said today that the Wizards are close to a decision on whether or not to participate in the NBA G League’s proposed Atlanta bubble. He believes there’s a good chance the Wizards will opt in, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

Wizards Guarantee Isaac Bonga’s 2020/21 Salary

Wizards guard/forward Isaac Bonga will remain in D.C. for his third NBA season in 2020/21, as Washington has officially guaranteed his $1,663,861 salary, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 6’8″ 21-year-old was drafted by the Lakers with the No. 39 pick in 2018 and sent to Washington as part of Los Angeles’ Anthony Davis deal last summer. The German Bonga began his pro career with the Skyliners Frankfurt of the BBL before entering the NBA draft in 2018.

Bonga emerged as a significant young contributor during his sophomore season with the Wizards, who qualified for the NBA’s Orlando restart before ultimately falling short of qualifying for a play-in game to appear in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Bonga appeared in 66 games for Washington, including 49 starts, averaging 5.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 18.9 MPG. He also developed an outside shot while with the Wizards, connecting on 35.2% of his 1.1 three point looks per night.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Bamba, Bonga, Borrego

Magic guard Markelle Fultz is confident he’ll play effectively in the league restart. He told Josh Robbins of The Athletic and other media members that he’s actually feeling better than he did before the stoppage of play in March. “Right now I actually feel really good,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of getting those reps up in a game.”

Fultz arrived at the Orlando campus late due to a personal matter and didn’t start practicing until July 17, but played in the Magic’s scrimmage against the Nuggets on Monday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have limited the minutes of big man Mohamed Bamba after he added 20 pounds to his frame during the shutdown, according to Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando coach Steve Clifford wants to make sure Bamba can play at a high level while carrying the extra weight but Bamba is irritated by the plan. “It is difficult to not be frustrated because at the end of the day, you want to go out there and be able to play,” he said.
  • The Wizards’ Isaac Bonga‘s $1.66MM salary for next season is not guaranteed but he’s making a strong impression during scrimmages in Orlando, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes“He impacts the game because of his enthusiasm and his effort and just his spirit,” coach Scott Brooks said of the young big. “Everyone wants to play with him because he just plays so hard. He makes the right plays. He’s not thirsty out there.”
  • Hornets coach James Borrego wants players who have more than just talent, as he explained to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Borrego values players who are passionate and hungry. “Players who care about their team, care about their teammates. Who want to get better, have a curiosity (how) to get better,” he said. “Have an appetite to want to get better. To have an appetite to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wagner, Bonga, Stewart

Bradley Beal‘s agent is downplaying a report that the Nets have had “internal discussions” about trading for the star guard, writes Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

“There are no Beal sweepstakes and that’s why he re-signed with the Wizards,” Mark Bartelstein said. “Brad re-signed with the Wizards because he wanted to stay in Washington and the Wizards wanted to keep him there.”

Beal agreed to a two-year extension in October that will keep him under contract through the end of the 2021/22 season. It also includes a $37.26MM player option for 2022/23.

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic looks back at 10 storylines he set for the team during preseason to see how they panned out. Among his findings are that former Lakers Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga have both been valuable additions, Thomas Bryant has been slowed by injuries and still hasn’t developed into a rim protector, Troy Brown has improved as a ballhandler and shooter and coach Scott Brooks appears more likely than ever to make it to the end of his contract next season. Katz believes the team’s most significant decisions were to hold onto Beal and impending free agent Davis Bertans.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports continues his look at potential Wizards draft picks with University of Washington power forward/center Isaiah Stewart. Hughes believes Stewart could be an effective back-up big man behind Bryant and Rui Hachimura, but he doesn’t have the athleticism or enough of a complete game to justify being taken with a top-10 pick.
  • Playing five more regular season games, which has been suggested in some circles, probably wouldn’t be enough to give the Wizards a shot at the playoffs, Hughes tweets. At 24-40, Washington was in ninth place when the hiatus began, five-and-a-half games out of the eighth spot.

Wall: Wizards Should Prioritize Small Forward, Bench Upgrades

By the time the NBA went on hiatus in March, the Wizards had moved up to the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference and were 5.5 games back of Orlando for the No. 8 seed. While having a healthy John Wall may have put Washington into the playoff mix in the East, the star point guard admitted during a recent appearance on Matt Barnes’ and Stephen Jackson’s ‘All The Smoke’ podcast that the team will need some more upgrades to become a legit contender.

Asked about the Wizards’ priorities in free agency and the draft this offseason, Wall pointed to the small forward position and the bench as two areas he believes the club should be looking at.

“With me and Brad(ley Beal), who is a great cornerstone, and you have Rui (Hachimura) who is a rookie that’s in there, but I feel like we definitely need a three that’s a dog, that can knock down shots and compete and create for us,” Wall said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “And then, we’ve also got to build a bench, just being realistic.”

In recent years, Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter have handled small forward duties in Washington, but Oubre was dealt to Phoenix in December of 2018, and Porter was sent to Chicago less than two months later. Since then, the Wizards haven’t identified a permanent solution at the position. In 2019/20, second-year forwards Isaac Bonga and Troy Brown started the majority of the team’s games at the three.

While Bonga and especially Brown have the potential to become important contributors, they’re both just 20 years old and may not be ready to play major roles on a contending team. Speaking to Barnes and Jackson on their podcast, Wall made a similar point about some of the Wizards’ youngsters, though he didn’t specifically single out any teammates.

“I love the team we have now. We have some great pieces,” Wall said. “There are a lot of young guys getting an opportunity to play that (they) would probably not have gotten on other teams. But I feel like if you want to be one of those (contending) teams, you’ve got to have veteran guys around that are willing to understand their role.”

The Wizards aren’t expected to have cap room available this offseason to pursue the top veterans on the free agent market, but the team should have some mid-level exception money available. As Hughes notes, it sounds like Wall wouldn’t be opposed to the club using its spending power on win-now pieces.

“I feel like for a couple of years in the past, we just kept trying to rebuild through the draft like you do in a lot of other sports,” Wall said. “But in the (NBA), your window is kind of short. You don’t have time for that.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/4/20

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wall, Bonga, Hachimura

Bradley Beal still believes he belongs on the All-Star team, but said he’s focused on other things as he addressed reporters last night, including Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Beal seemed like a glaring omission when the All-Star reserves were announced Thursday. He’s tied for fifth in the league in scoring at 28.8 PPG and has the injury-plagued Wizards on the edge of the playoff race.

“It doesn’t make me or break me. It doesn’t define me as a player,” Beal said of the All-Star snub. “The one thing I won’t do is disrespect anybody that made it. Everybody that made it is deserving of it. I’m past it.”

He also expressed appreciation to all the analysts who have spoken up on his behalf since the rosters were revealed. Beal is the first player scoring more than 28 points per game to be left off the All-Star team since 1985.

“At the end of the day, I’m not about to sit here with this sad cloud over my head like why I should be in. All of my peers come up to me after every game and say it. Coaches say it,” Beal said. “I just wish we had this same mindset three or four years ago when I got snubbed and we had the fourth seed.”

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • During warmups before Saturday’s game, John Wall may have sent a message that he plans to return before the end of the season, writes Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports. In a video tweeted by Hoop District, Wall sinks a turnaround jumper over an assistant coach and tells a group of fans, “Don’t worry, y’all get to see this soon.” Wall has been making progress in his recovery from a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
  • As the Wizards get healthier, some fill-ins are going lose playing time, but coach Scott Brooks said Saturday that he plans to keep Isaac Bonga in the rotation. The second-year swingman has started 29 games in his first season in Washington.
  • Rui Hachimura wasn’t used last night, but the Wizards remain optimistic that he will return soon, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The rookie forward hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury December 16, and Brooks said he still has to shake off some rust.