Kristaps Porzingis

Wizards Notes: Point Guard, Avdija, Beal, KP, Defense

After evaluating which point guards had the most success and fit in best this season with the Wizards, general manager Tommy Sheppard said this week that he has a good sense of what sort of player the team will be targeting this offseason to fortify the position, according to Jackson Filyo of WashingtonWizards.com.

“I think we need somebody that is a pass-first point guard; somebody that will be able to contain the dribble on the defensive end and help us keep people out of the paint,” Sheppard said. “Those are some of the prerequisites we are going to be looking for.”

It remains to be seen whether the Wizards’ optimal path for acquiring a starting-caliber point guard will come via free agency, the trade market, or even the draft. Sheppard left the door open to all three possibilities, noting that one of the biggest keys of the offseason will be exercising patience and waiting for various markets to develop.

“There is going to be buyer frenzy once you get to the draft,” the GM said, per Filyo. “There is so little money this summer in the marketplace for free agents. There are going to be a lot of teams that want to shuffle. There are going to be some teams that do a little bit on the side and there are going to be teams that do complete restructuring. To know ahead of time what our needs are going to be, where we can fill those needs and then being patient to get the best possible deal – that’s not a challenge like I am worried about, that’s just something we embrace.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • In his end-of-season press conference, Sheppard expressed enthusiasm about the idea of Deni Avdija playing for Israel in EuroBasket this offseason, referring to those contests as “high-level” games. “I believe he will get more out of that,” Sheppard said. “Being one of the key players for Israel will give him the kind of pressure we want him to have that probably doesn’t exist in Summer League.”
  • Sheppard also expressed confidence that Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, who have yet to play together, will complement each other well. “One of the easiest problems I have to solve is talent playing with talent,” Sheppard said, according to Filyo. “That works itself out. I think Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis will be great in the two-man game. I think both of them are creative with the ball. Both of them know how to score, both of them have great court vision. “
  • The Wizards showed improvement on defense near the end of the 2020/21 season and at the start of ’21/22, but ultimately ended up with only the NBA’s 25th-best defensive rating this season. Personnel changes and strategy tweaks could help upgrade the club’s performance on that side of the ball in ’22/23, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, noting that Sheppard referred to the defense as something that will be a “focus” this offseason.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a look at why the Wizards couldn’t maintain their momentum after getting off to a 10-3 start and what’s next for the club.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Avdija, Offseason, Porzingis

Wizards star shooting guard Bradley Beal will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, should he decide not to pick up his $36.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season. Washington president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard appears to be optimistic that Beal will stick around long-term with the team that drafted him, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“I feel every indication he’s given me is that he wants to be here moving forward,” Sheppard said of Beal’s future with the Wizards. “I stick to the 10 years of confidence I have in the relationship we’ve had. It’s a lot of time, a lot of equity and a lot of conversations. I feel that we’ve shown this is a place we can build around him. I think he’s shown to the community here that when he’s healthy he’s one of the best players at his position. Those are hard to come by.”

The 28-year-old Beal, a three-time All-Star, was limited to just 40 games this year due largely to a left wrist injury that ultimately required surgery. He averaged 23.2 PPG, 6.6 APG and 4.7 RPG this year.

There’s more out of D.C.:

  • Wizards swingman Deni Avdija expressed excitement for being able to hone his game during the first normal, healthy offseason of his NBA career, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. There was no training camp or summer league due to the pandemic during the 2020 offseason, and the 21-year-old was recovering from an ankle fracture in the 2021 offseason. “I know what I need to do better,” Avdija said. “Just finishing the season like that gives you motivation and energy. You know you can make plays, you know you can help the team win. I feel like just taking the next step.” Hughes notes that Avidja closed out the year with an uptick in his output. He averaged 12.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.6 APG across his last 16 contests of the year.
  • Following a disappointing 2021/22 season in which they missed the playoffs and play-in tournament, the Wizards must deal with a variety of personnel issues in the offseason, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes in a separate piece. Hughes identifies the free agent fate of Beal as the biggest hurdle confronting Washington in the offseason. The next priority, should Beal return, will be finding a long-term solution as the team’s starting point guard. Hughes expects the Wizards front office to consider trade and free agency options over drafting a point guard. Hughes also anticipates that Washington will look to shore up its defense and long-range shooting.
  • New Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis expects the team to compete for the playoffs next year, writes Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. Porzingis also posits that he himself has only reached 60-65% of his ceiling, and hopes to boost that level next year. After shooting guard Bradley Beal went down with a wrist injury in February, the team ultimately finished with a 35-47 record and missed the play-in tournament. “This summer is a long one, and also I’m fresh,” the 26-year-old big man said of his offseason health. “I’m feeling great. I could play right now. That’s an exciting thing for me, and I’m really looking forward to doing some work, getting some tan and coming back next season with batteries fully charged.”

Eastern Notes: Hayward, Lowry, Barnes, Duarte, Porzingis

Incorporating Gordon Hayward back into the rotation is a tricky task for Hornets coach James Borrego, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer notes. Hayward missed nearly two months of action due to a foot injury. He had five points, four rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes against Philadelphia on Saturday.

“Well, it’s a challenge, but that’s my job and I’ll figure it out,” Borrego said. “We’ll take a look at the film, look at the rotations. We’ve got two days now to digest and figure out what we are going to do. … I’ll try to bring some consistency to the lineup and try to communicate that to our group, making sure everybody understands their role and what this rotation is going to look like moving forward.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Heat guard Kyle Lowry is impressed by the lottery pick his former team drafted, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Lowry sees Scottie Barnes as a potential franchise player for the Raptors. “He’s a special talent. He’s going to be a cornerstone of the franchise,” Lowry said. “He fits in perfectly here – how hard he plays, how passionate he is for the game. And he’s only going to continue to get better.”
  • Pacers rookie Chris Duarte won’t play during the final week of the season, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Duarte hasn’t played since March 15 due to a left big toe injury. Duarte, the 13th pick of last year’s draft, averaged 13.1 PPG in 28 MPG while appearing in 55 games.
  • The Wizards defeated Dallas on Friday, the first time Kristaps Porzingis played against his former team. Porzingis was grateful for the intensity his new teammates showed, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. “What I liked is everybody had my back (Friday),” Porzingis said. “They knew it was, I don’t want to say a personal game, but it’s always fun to compete against your former team. Everybody had my back.”

Wizards Notes: Porzingis Trade, Satoransky, Special Someone

With the Wizards set to face the Mavericks on Friday night for the first time since the trade deadline, Tim Cato and Josh Robbins of The Athletic reassessed the deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis and a protected 2022 second-round pick to Washington in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Cato and Robbins agree that it was a win-win trade for the two teams. Porzingis’ time in Dallas had clearly run its course, but he has been productive with Washington, averaging 21.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.6 BPG on .472/.305/.866 shooting in 13 games. He has been a willing passer and aggressive in the post, averaging 7.5 free throw attempts.

In addition to his production, Robbins writes that the Wizards are happy with Porzingis’ approach and toughness — the 7’3″ big man played through a couple of ankle sprains in recent games.

Dinwiddie, meanwhile, has thrived in a complementary role in Dallas, where his role is more clearly defined. Through 18 games with his new club, he is averaging 17.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 4.2 APG on .498/.386/.720 shooting.

Dinwiddie has been able to spot-up for threes and drive-and-kick as a secondary or tertiary ball-handler next to Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson. Bertans is still struggling to convert shots, but the team is holding out hope that might change over time.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Porzingis doesn’t expect the game against the Mavs to be as wild as when he played the Knicks for the first time after being dealt to Dallas, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I think it’s going to be a good game. It’s not going to be like my first game with Dallas in New York. That one was just crazy. This one is going to be a bit more just me competing against my old team. We’ll see,” he said.
  • Tomas Satoransky had a uniquely historic night on Wednesday, as Hughes relays in a separate story. Satoransky had a double-double without scoring a point, becoming just the third player in league history to accomplish the feat. The unselfish guard finished with 10 rebounds and 13 assists against just two turnovers, while shooting 0-of-2 from the field in the team’s 127-110 win over Orlando. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad, you know? I don’t know,” Satoransky joked. “I just let the game come to be a little bit. I was trying to be aggressive, but every time I would drive or was aggressive to the basket, it opened up space for my teammates. So, I tried to push the tempo from the beginning and I got some rebounds.” The 30-year-old veteran will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • The Wizards lack a “special someone” to set the team on the path to becoming a consistently winning franchise, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic. Washington definitely has some talented players, but no clear leader or catalyst.

Wizards Notes: Porzingis, Beal, Satoransky, Kispert

Kristaps Porzingis is showing that he can be a dominant scorer late in games, which makes the prospect of a future pairing with Bradley Beal very intriguing, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards only have two wins in the past 19 days, but Porzingis took over both of them, scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter against the Lakers last week and 11 in the fourth quarter against the Pistons Friday night.

“I enjoy those clutch moments, those last possessions,” Porzingis said. “There’s more on the line. I think every basketball player enjoys those shots more.”

Beal hasn’t played since Porzingis was acquired from the Mavericks in February, so the Wizards haven’t gotten to see how their games fit together. They are hoping to keep Beal this summer and use them as the basis to build a contending team. For now, coach Wes Unseld Jr. is experimenting with the advantages that having the tallest player on the court can offer.

“He’s kind of a steadying presence. You can play through him,” Unseld Jr. said. “With his size and stature, you know he can get a shot off. Get him to a spot and let him do his thing. He made some big plays late.” 

There’s more from Washington:

  • Beal, who has a decision to make on his $36.4MM player option for next season, talked about his situation on Draymond Green‘s podcast this week (hat tip to James Herbert of CBS Sports). Beal appreciates that the Wizards front office has refused to include him in trade talks, but he’s still planning to keep his options open. “It’s kind of funny. I’ve never been a free agent,” he said. “It’s kind of reminding me of college recruiting. Like I hear every single game somebody’s recruiting me. Someone’s like tagging on me, whether it’s another player or whether it may be a coach or whoever it may be, somebody’s chit-chatting: ‘B, what you want to do this summer? What you doing this summer?'”
  • Tomas Satoransky made his first start on Friday since signing with the Wizards at the end of February, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. It may be a sign of hope for Satoransky, who has been through three trades, a buyout and an injury over the past seven months.
  • After fighting to earn minutes early in the season, rookie Corey Kispert is now a regular part of the starting lineup, Robbins notes in a separate story. Beal’s absence created an opening, and Kispert seized the opportunity. “There’s no substitute for NBA minutes, no matter how many you get,” he said. “So I’m just really happy that I have a chance to play through mistakes and play through all those things. It’s made me a better player and then consequently I make less of them.”

Eastern Notes: Porzingis, Jordan, Haslem, Morris

Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis showed he can still be dominant in the team’s victory over the Lakers on Saturday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes. Porzingis finished with 27 points and five assists, helping his team win 127-119.

“Just down the stretch, we wanted to play through him,” teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “No one could stop K.P. at the elbow. He was just turning around and shooting over everybody. It’s going to be great just to see if we can get him a full season. We already know what he can do.”

Porzingis was acquired by the Wizards in February. He has dealt with a variety of injuries over his career (and hasn’t played over 60 games since the 2016/17 season), but he can still be productive when healthy. In seven games with Washington, he’s averaging 20.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

New York Notes: Simmons, Durant, Curry, Erman, Porzingis

The Nets are preparing to move forward without Ben Simmons for the remainder of the season if necessary, NetsDaily.com’s Chris Milholen relays.

Coach Steve Nash didn’t have an update on Simmons, who received an epidural injection for his back injury this week. Nash said he’s just concerned with coaching the players who can suit up.

“I think we just have to focus on whose available right now,” Nash stated. “Whether Ben’s available, we’ll be very excited. We’ll get to work on how to find cohesion but right now we just got to focus on the games in front of us and who is available and manage the current squad.”

Simmons is still not doing any basketball-related activities and seems a long way from making his season debut.

“He’s done some individual workouts, and then he had the flare-up,” Nash said. “That’s a step he hasn’t got back to yet; individual on-court workouts.”

We have more on the New York teams:

  • The league issued a $25K fine to Kevin Durant for using profane language toward a fan, NBA Communications tweets. The incident took place during the second quarter of the Nets’ 113-111 loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday. A tweet from Durant in response to a video of the incident suggested he was anticipating being fined.
  • Seth Curry scored 27 points against Portland on Friday but the left ankle injury that kept the Nets guard out for three games will linger through the season, according to Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post. “It’s been bothering me a while,” Curry said. “It’s probably not going to fully go away [until] the end of the season.”
  • Assistant coach Darren Erman will move to the front of the Knicks‘ bench in the aftermath of Kenny Payne‘s departure, Ian Begley of SNY TV tweets. Payne was named the head coach of Louisville, his alma mater.
  • Ex-Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis got razzed by fans during the Wizards’ loss at Madison Square Garden on Friday, but he didn’t mind, according to Peter Botte of the New York Post“I enjoy this. I enjoy playing at MSG, whether it’s at home before or now on the road. It’s always entertaining,” he said. “The biggest stage, and again, receiving the boos. … I love the city. I miss this city a lot. I miss a lot of people here.”

Mavs Notes: Dinwiddie, Chriss, Porzingis

Spencer Dinwiddie got a fresh start after being traded to the Mavericks and he’s appreciative of the opportunity, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon writes. Dinwiddie was part of the blockbuster deal with Washington that sent Kristaps Porzingis back to the Eastern Conference.

“People said I was a bad guy, people said I was washed, all that stuff after 30 games coming off an ACL, which sucks,” Dinwiddie said. “But (GM) Nico (Harrison) didn’t have to have that faith. He didn’t have to pull that trigger, especially with a player the caliber of Porzingis, an All-Star-caliber player.”

Dinwiddie made the game-winning 3-pointer against Brooklyn on Wednesday off a feed from Luka Doncic. Dinwiddie credited the team’s franchise player for making that decision.

“You can make people feel wanted, you can make them feel not wanted. You can trust them, not trust them. … He’s the superstar,” Dinwiddie said. “He could have done whatever he wanted.”

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • Dinwiddie is in the first year of a three-year, $54MM contract but he hasn’t completely settled in following his midseason trade, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News notes. Dinwiddie has been staying in a variety of hotels and hasn’t looked for a home or signed a lease in Dallas. He wants to wait until the offseason to rent or buy a home to ensure he’s in the team’s plans beyond this season.
  • Backup big man Marquese Chriss has returned to practice and coach Jason Kidd is hopeful he will be available for one of the team’s games this weekend, MacMahon tweets. Chriss hasn’t played since February 10 due to knee soreness.
  • By dealing Porzingis, the Mavericks have plenty of flexibility to make a “home-run trade” for another star player over the next two years, according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger. The team will also have the ability to deal multiple first-round picks now that the obligations from the Porziņgis deal have either been fulfilled or will be in the near future, Hollinger adds.
  • In case you missed it, former exec Donnie Nelson has filed a lawsuit against the franchise.

Wizards Notes: Porzingis, 5-Team Trade, Westbrook, Schakel

Kristaps Porzingis has only played three games since being acquired from Dallas last month, but the Wizards are encouraged by what they’ve seen, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Porzingis was sidelined by knee soreness at the time of the trade and didn’t start playing until Sunday. He has averaged 19.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per night and has contributed as a rim protector and play-maker as well.

“It’s tough, it’s been a handful of games, so he’s still trying to work his way through it. He’s going to have some big nights and he’s going to struggle at times, just like everybody else,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “But he’ll find that level of consistency, it’ll even out. He’s too good of a player.”

Porzingis has barely practiced since coming to Washington, Wallace notes, so he’s still trying to develop chemistry with his new teammates. He will miss tonight’s game at Portland for precautionary reasons because it’s the second night of a back-to-back, but Unseld doesn’t expect him to have any more restrictions for the rest of the season.

“Of course, I want to play and have longer stretches of playing,” Porzingis said. “Sometimes it kind of creeps in your mind and you want to force some things out there because, ‘Ah, I might be coming out in a couple minutes,’ so I just [need] to have that calmness and knowing that I’m going to get there. I just need to stay focused and play the right way.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • The five-team trade that Washington was part of last summer continues to evolve, observes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Although there’s a perception that the Wizards got the better of the deal because Russell Westbrook has struggled with the Lakers, the pieces they got in return have already changed significantly. Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell and Aaron Holiday were all shipped out at the trade deadline.
  • Westbrook’s desire to go home and play for the Lakers sparked that five-team deal, but he had a much better situation in Washington, contends Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Westbrook became a team leader after sparking the Wizards to a late-season surge that got them into the play-in tournament last season, Buckner points out. He also had an All-Star backcourt partner in Bradley Beal who was willing to adjust to his style of play.
  • Jordan Schakel‘s new two-way contract will cover two seasons, tweets JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors.

Southeast Notes: Porzingis, Gafford, Hachimura, Ball, Martin

The combination of Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford at center could produce big results for the Wizards, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. They combined for 33 points against the Clippers on Wednesday. They also give the team a consistent shot-blocker presence on defense.

“I think it’s a different feel,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “K.P.’s able to stretch the defense and Gaff obviously puts a lot of pressure on the rim as a roller. Both have good length and size up front. But just the ability to mix and match, kind of give offenses and our offense a different feel, the defense a different look.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rui Hachimura has shown expanded range offensively, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post writes. Known for his midrange game, Hachimura has made half of his 3-point attempts this season. “For me, it’s more confidence,” the Wizards forward said. “I’m more confident shooting threes.” Hachimura, who has appeared in 24 games after sitting out for personal reasons, is extension-eligible this summer and the improved perimeter shooting should pump up his value.
  • LaMelo Ball‘s slump will doom the Hornets if he doesn’t snap out of it soon, Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer opines. Ball’s inconsistent play has been a big reason why Charlotte has lost 13 of its last 17. He had six first-half turnovers against Boston on Wednesday. “I’m not playing my game,” he said. “Trying to do other stuff. Pretty much letting people get in my head.”
  • Heat reserve Caleb Martin injured his left knee on Wednesday but it doesn’t appear to be serious. The Heat decided an MRI was not required on his hyperextended knee, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. He’s questionable to play on Friday, Winderman adds in another tweet.