Monte Morris

Wizards Notes: Japan Trip, Morris, Barton, Kispert, Hachimura

The Wizards enjoyed being part of the Japan Games, but the hardest part of the trip to Asia will occur when they return home, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The players will have to readjust their body clocks to East Coast time while preparing for a regular season that’s a little more than two weeks away. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said the medical staff has a plan to help the team handle the time change, and the players are confident they can deal with it.

“Of course, we have to do the right thing and try to get in a rhythm as soon as possible,” Kristaps Porziņģis said. “But we’re all young. We’re all athletes. And I think we’ll adjust back to D.C. time pretty quickly, and we have enough days until the next game also. So it shouldn’t be a problem. It shouldn’t be an excuse going forward.”

Even though Washington lost both games to the Warriors, Unseld was mostly happy with what he saw on the trip. The team’s starters looked much better Sunday as the Wizards built a 16-point fourth quarter lead that the end of the bench couldn’t hold.

“I’m pretty satisfied outside of those last eight minutes this afternoon of where we are,” Unseld said. “I thought we did a lot of good things today, but overall I think we’re in a pretty good spot as far as fast-tracking some of the areas of concern from last year. Defensively, I think we’re in a better spot with the hand activity, causing deflections. I think our ball movement has improved. We still struggle to make shots, and I think that’s just a rhythm thing. But we’re creating some good looks. So all-in-all, I think it’s been a solid week and a half.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Monte Morris made his second straight start at point guard Sunday, indicating that he might have that role locked up despite an expected competition with Delon Wright, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Morris, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Nuggets, showed a polished midrange game and an ability to make shots in traffic, Hughes observes.
  • Will Barton, who was part of the same deal with Denver, made his preseason debut after missing the opener due to tightness in his lower back, Hughes adds. Corey Kispert was ruled out of Sunday’s game after suffering a sprained left ankle in the first quarter.
  • Rui Hachimura talks about the excitement of bringing the team to his home country in an interview with Kendra Andrews of ESPN’s “NBA Today” (video link).

Southeast Notes: Wizards, M. Williams, Fultz, Krejci, Korver

Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a look at the Wizards‘ projected depth chart and rotation, predicting that former Nuggets Monte Morris and Will Barton will join Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, and Kristaps Porzingis in the starting five to open the season.

Assuming Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. decides to roll with a 10-man rotation to open the season, Robbins projects Delon Wright, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, and Daniel Gafford to be part of the second unit, with either Corey Kispert or Johnny Davis slotting into the second backcourt spot.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Longtime Hornets forward Marvin Williams has rejoined the franchise in a basketball operations role, tweets Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. In his new position, Williams will assist with player programs and with player development off the court, according to Boone.
  • Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel spoke to Dr. David Lee, a local orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, to get a sense of how long it might take Magic point guard Markelle Fultz to return from a fractured toe. Lee estimated that Fultz could potentially return to Orlando’s lineup in about four to eight weeks, which would be anywhere from mid-October to mid-November. However, the team hasn’t provided a specific recovery timeline.
  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan liked what he saw from newly added guard Vit Krejci in the 22-year-old’s first practice with the team on Thursday. “He knows how to play,” McMillan said, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). “I think he has a high basketball IQ. We put him right out there. It was good to see him be available to play and practice with our guys today. So that was exciting.”
  • Although Kyle Korver is technically part of the Hawksfront office and not the coaching staff, he has been working with players – including Clint Capela and Jalen Johnson – on their shooting during training camp, as Williams writes in a full story for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required). “I’ve worked with him quite a few times actually,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “Kyle has helped me make a few adjustments in my shot. You know, having him around has helped a lot. He’s been helping a lot of these guys, giving them pointers and things they can work on, so it’s good.”

Wizards Notes: Porzingis, Davis, Avdija, Kuzma

Kristaps Porzingis has a new look as he starts his first training camp with the Wizards, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. The veteran big man lost seven pounds during the offseason in an effort to become more mobile and more durable. Injuries limited him to 51 games last season, and he hasn’t played in more than 57 since tearing his ACL in 2018.

Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Porzingis will begin the season without the restrictions he had after being acquired from Dallas at the trade deadline. That means no more cap on his minutes and no more holding him out of back-to-back games. Porzingis believes he can return to elite status if he stays healthy, and he cited an ESPN story ranking him as the 86th-best player in the league as a sign of disrespect.

“Especially this year, I’m coming in with a chip on my shoulder because of the ESPN rank, the this, that, it’s kind of — okay,” he said. “I use it as gasoline, as energy. I’m looking forward to reminding everybody what I can do on both ends of the floor.”

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Johnny Davis is eager to bounce back from a disappointing Summer League performance, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 10th pick in this year’s draft is expected to contend for playing time with the team’s second unit. He suffered a minor back injury in Las Vegas, but team president Tommy Sheppard confirmed this week that Davis is 100% heading into camp. “He got back into the lab and got healthy,” Sheppard said. “He struggled a little bit at the Summer League with some back stuff. When the players got together in L.A., I think everybody saw what we saw all season from him as a player in college.”
  • Second-year forward Deni Avdija is dealing with a groin injury he suffered while playing for Israel this summer, Hughes adds in a separate story. “I feel like the doctors and the trainers will do the best they can to get me healthy as fast as possible and get me on the court,” said Avdija, who considers the injury to be minor. “But for now, I trust them and I trust the organization. We’ll see.”
  • In another piece, Hughes notes that the Wizards’ offseason moves including trading for Kyle Kuzma‘s childhood friend, Monte Morris, and signing his former college teammate, Delon Wright.

Eastern Notes: Beal, Morris, Nets, Mitchell, Claxton

For Bradley Beal, winning a championship with the Wizards would be more rewarding due to the adversity he has faced in recent years, he told Laura Schreffler of Forbes.com. Beal has opted to stay loyal to Washington, signing a five-year, $251MM deal with the team this summer.

“People always look at me like I’m crazy, but I have a huge desire to want to make it work here and win here,” Beal said. “This is the team that drafted me. They’re super loyal, I have a great relationship with ownership, and a great relationship with our front office.

“Plus, there’s not a lot of chances in the careers of NBA players to be notated as the franchise guy, you know? To be able to have that opportunity, to be able to be in a position to where I can write my own story, that’s everything.”

Beal has spent his entire 10-year career to date with the Wizards. Despite feeling pressure from some fans to request a trade, the 29-year-old has remained focused on winning a title with the Wizards.

“I feel like if I win a championship here in DC, the grind of it, with everything I’ve been through, all the adversity and ups and downs, that would make a win that much sweeter, makes me appreciate it that much more,” Beal explained. “And I do love the grind, and to sometimes go against the odds.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Hyland, Jokic, Connelly, Cousins

When Jamal Murray was practicing with the Nuggets in April and weighing the possibility of returning from his ACL tear, he was more apprehensive on the defensive side of the ball than on offense, Mike Singer of The Denver Post said on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto.

“He was concerned about fighting around screens, getting dinged, diving for loose balls, and that half-second hesitancy that might still be there as a result of that ACL tear he had,” Singer said.

However, that hesitancy was no longer evident when Murray practiced with Denver’s Summer League team a few weeks ago, according to Singer, who suggests that Denver’s decision to trade Monte Morris signals the club is confident in Murray’s ability to return strong in 2022/23.

The Morris trade was also a sign that Bones Hyland will have a bigger role going forward, according to Scotto, who has heard that the 2021 first-rounder has put on six pounds of muscle this offseason and is working out twice a day as he prepares for a minutes bump in the fall.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Singer suggests that if Morris had reached free agency this summer, he likely would’ve earned a deal in the range of $14-15MM annually, as opposed to the $9MM he’ll make on his current deal. The Nuggets’ reluctance to pay that much to retain the point guard once his contract expires in 2024 was one reason why the team was willing to move him. As for Will Barton, his age (32 in January), injury history, and defensive limitations were factors in Denver’s decision to trade him, per Singer.
  • People around the Nuggets were “pinching themselves” when Nikola Jokic signed a five-year extension to remain with the team and appreciated that those negotiations were drama-free, according to Singer. As Singer points out, Denver is typically viewed as “a place where (star) free agents don’t want to come,” so Jokic’s decision to commit long-term was a testament to the relationship he has built with the franchise. Of course, the fact that he’ll be in line for a projected $270MM (an NBA record) on the five-year deal probably didn’t hurt either.
  • Singer believes that if the Nuggets had offered president of basketball operations Tim Connelly an extension worth about $5-6MM per year before the Timberwolves began pursuing him in earnest, he likely would’ve been “eager to stay” in Denver. However, the Nuggets were unwilling to match the five-year, $40MM offer Minnesota eventually made.
  • Singer got the impression there was some “friction” behind the scenes with DeMarcus Cousins last season, which is one reason why the Nuggets signed DeAndre Jordan this summer to fill that backup center role.

Wizards Notes: Davis, Morris, Wright, Kuzma

Wizards lottery pick Johnny Davis hasn’t looked sharp in Summer League action and an injury could be to blame, Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes.

Summer league coach Zach Guthrie said Davis is dealing with back tightness, which could explain why he’s struggled to get past defenders and hasn’t been driving to the basket.

“That’s a question for Johnny, and I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say no,” Guthrie said. “That’s the type of kid he is. He’s a no-excuses, tough-nosed type of player.”

Davis tried to downplay the issue. “It doesn’t impact me at all,” Davis said. “I just make sure I keep the heat pack on it and make sure I’m not sitting down so it doesn’t get tight on me.”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Monte Morris, acquired from the Nuggets to solidify the point guard position, says he’s embracing a leadership role, as he told Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. “I’m not going to be scared to speak up. I’m not going to be scared to give my experience with me playing a lot of playoff games,” Morris said. “… Guys are going to be looking at me to speak up and give my knowledge because I’ve played in the playoffs every year I’ve been in the league.”
  • The other major addition at the point, free agent acquisition Delon Wright, said he’s looking forward to an expanded role after backing up Trae Young in Atlanta last season, Robbins relays in a separate story“(There’s an) opportunity to grow with the franchise,” Wright said. “Over the past couple of years, I’ve been playing behind All-Star point guards, so it’s been hard to kind of show everything I can do. So initially that was something that I wanted to get out of free agency: somewhere where I can go and just spread my wings more.”
  • Wright’s teammate in college, Kyle Kuzma, was pivotal in convincing him to sign with Washington, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. “He knows what I can do. That was his recruitment pitch,” said Wright, who signed a two-year, $16MM contract.

Wizards Notes: Leonsis, Beal, No-Trade Clause, Morris

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks previously relayed, Bradley Beal‘s new five-year, maximum-salary contract with the Wizards contains a no-trade clause — making him just the 10th player in league history to receive one. In addition to featuring a no-trade clause, Beal’s $251MM deal includes a 15% trade kicker and a fifth-year player option, according to Marks.

At a press conference to announce the signing, owner Ted Leonsis defended the provisions that were added to Beal’s contract, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

If you can show the industry, show the world that you can draft, develop, keep great players, that’s how you start to make your way to become a destination,” Leonsis said.

There’s a lot of movement, a lot of non-partnership that you see around the league. And for there to be a public statement that essentially says, ‘We have a player that wants to be here and serve out his contract, as do we,’ that allows your general manager to plan, to be able to have the confidence that your best player, your bedrock player, is a part of the process. So that was something that we did, and when the player brings that to you — we’re not naive. I read the press on occasion, and I see what people are thinking. I didn’t take it as a point of leverage; I took it more as a point of partnership. All we can do is show you that we’re in this together.”

Beal’s ability to veto any trade over the span of his deal could make it extremely difficult for Washington to pivot if things go south, Wallace notes.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic examines the team’s decision to give Beal a no-trade clause. Robbins says it shows how much the Wizards value — and likely overvalue — Beal, as well as Leonsis’ desperation to re-sign Beal and remain competitive, noting that the owner has been adamantly opposed to tanking in the past. As Robbins writes, if Beal decides to asks out at some point, he will have full power to veto a trade if it’s not to his preferred destination — even if the Wizards were hypothetically getting better value from another team.
  • In considering Beal’s new contract, Daniel Levitt of FiveThirtyEight.com comes to the conclusion that it leaves the Wizards stuck in mediocrity going forward. Beal’s loyalty to the Wizards is commendable, says Levitt, but his on-court production doesn’t match his large salary, per FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR wins above replacement statistic. As such, it’s hard to envision how the Wizards can become a legitimate contender with so much money tied up in Beal and Kristaps Porzingis the next couple of seasons, when neither player has shown the capability of being the best — or second-best — player on a championship-caliber team, according to Levitt.
  • Point guard Monte Morris, whom the Wizards recently acquired in a trade with Denver, is looking forward to teaming up with Beal, Robbins relays in another story for The Athletic. “I’ve always thought Brad was the best two-guard in the league,” Morris said. “I would tell our players he’s amazing, just how quick he is and can get off any shot. (He’s) athletic, and (with) his energy out there and will to win, I’m excited to play alongside him. I hope it’s the same (feeling) on his side. We’re going to get out in transition. I’m going to get him the ball where it needs to go, and that’s my job: to put us in the right situations and positions to be successful and play at a high level.”

Nuggets Trade Morris, Barton To Wizards For KCP, Smith

JULY 6: The trade is now official, according to a press release from the Wizards.

“We’re very excited to add Monte and Will as proven players at the point guard and shooting guard positions, two areas that were top priorities for us to address during this offseason,” president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “Monte has steadily improved his all-around game and is coming off a career year while Will has been a consistent scorer and three-point threat during his time in Denver, and both are obviously familiar with Coach Unseld’s system and style.”


JUNE 29: The Wizards and Nuggets have reached an agreement on a trade that will send point guard Monte Morris and wing Will Barton to Washington in exchange for swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and point guard Ish Smith, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) first reported that the two teams were nearing an agreement.

The Wizards, who had previously been linked to Morris, will get a much-needed point guard upgrade in the trade, adding a player who was considered one of the NBA’s best backups before being thrust into a starting role last season as Jamal Murray recovered from ACL surgery.

In his first year as a full-time starter, Morris averaged 12.6 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 3.0 RPG on .484/.395/.869 shooting in 75 games (29.9 MPG). The Nuggets received calls from more than 20 teams about the 27-year-old, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Washington will also acquire Barton, a solid shooter and scorer who has averaged 14.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.3 APG with a .362 3PT% in 479 regular season games for the Nuggets since arriving in Denver in 2015.

Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. is very familiar with both players, having previously served as a Nuggets assistant.

The move reduces the likelihood of the Wizards seriously pursuing a point guard like Tyus Jones in free agency or Malcolm Brogdon via trade.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets will add a player they had been targeting since the trade deadline in Caldwell-Pope, according to Singer. Denver views Caldwell-Pope as a two-way upgrade on the wing, values his championship experience with the Lakers, and would be interested in retaining him beyond next season, Singer adds.

Caldwell-Pope, 29, averaged 13.2 PPG and made 39.0% of his three-pointers for the Wizards in 2021/22, while playing his usual strong defense.

As for Smith, he’ll provide depth at point guard for a Nuggets team that should have Murray back this fall and saw Bones Hyland enjoy a breakout season as a rookie. Assuming Smith plays in at least one game for Denver, it’ll be his 13th NBA team, breaking a league record, tweets Matt Williams of ESPN.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), if no more players are added to the four-player deal, the two teams will have to wait until after the July moratorium to make it official, since the Wizards are taking on several million more dollars than they’re sending out, while the Nuggets save a little money on next season’s payroll.

Caldwell-Pope ($14MM) and Smith ($4.73MM) entered the offseason without fully guaranteed salaries for 2022/23, but Caldwell-Pope locked in his guarantee on Tuesday and Smith is on track to receive as well in order to adhere to salary-matching rules and make the deal legal. Non-guaranteed salary doesn’t count in trades for outgoing purposes.

Caldwell-Pope, Smith, and Barton ($14.38MM) will all be on expiring contracts next season and are eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023. Morris will earn $9.13MM in ’22/23 and $9.8MM in ’23/24 before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The Nuggets will likely absorb Smith’s incoming contract using part of the $8.2MM trade exception they created in last week’s JaMychal Green trade. That would allow them to create a new larger trade exception, worth at least Morris’ outgoing salary ($9.13MM), per Marks.

Point Guard Rumors: Brogdon, Knicks, Wizards, Morris, Murray

Although the Wizards and the Knicks are the two teams that have most frequently discussed a possible Malcolm Brogdon trade with the Pacers, people around the league are skeptical that either team would include its 2022 lottery pick in a package for Brogdon, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

If those league officials are right, that means a Brogdon trade could end up looking more like Portland’s deal for Jerami Grant. The Trail Blazers are giving up future picks (and a swap of 2022 second-rounders) for Grant, but aren’t including this year’s No. 7 overall pick. The Wizards and Knicks pick 10th and 11th, respectively, and will likely attempt to keep those picks as they pursue Brogdon.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have been open to discussing Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in trade conversations, while the Knicks have explored trade options involving Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and Cam Reddish.

Here are a few more rumors related to the point guard market:

  • With the Wizards widely believed to be seeking a trade for a veteran point guard, one potential target worth keeping an eye on is Nuggets guard Monte Morris, according to Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Responding to rumors about Dejounte Murray‘s possible availability, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers have had conversation with the Spurs about Murray dating back to the trade deadline in February.
  • Besides Brogdon, Morris, and Murray, some other point guards believed to be available via trade this offseason include Mike Conley of the Jazz, Terry Rozier of the Hornets, Devonte’ Graham of the Pelicans, and D’Angelo Russell of the Timberwolves, according to Fischer.

Northwest Notes: Morris, Hyland, Nuggets Draft, Minott, Wiggins

The impending trade of JaMychal Green to the Thunder portends a very busy summer for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes.

Denver is intent on maximizing Nikola Jokic‘s prime years, so the fact that the team now has two first-rounders in this year’s draft suggests more moves are coming. It’s unlikely two rookies would have an immediate impact on a team with championship aspirations.

With Jamal Murray returning this season, Monte Morris could be moved. He has an affordable contract and has generated significant interest around the league, a source told Singer. Alternatively, the Nuggets might consider moving Bones Hyland for a much-needed defensive wing player.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • If Denver holds onto the No. 21 pick or trades up in the draft, which wings might interest the front office as it looks to improve the team defensively? Singer lists a handful of wing prospects, including Duke’s AJ Griffin and Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell.
  • University of Memphis forward Josh Minott visited the Jazz and that’s significant, given where Minott is projected to go in the draft, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Most of the prospects the Jazz have worked out are projected as late second-round selections at best. In contrast, Minott is expected to go higher in the second round and could even sneak into the first round. He’s rated as the No. 46 prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list. Utah doesn’t currently have a draft pick.
  • Andrew Wiggins followed the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love by winning an NBA championship after being dealt by the Timberwolves in a high-profile trade, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Reusse seeks out opinions from several sources as to why Wiggins has excelled with Golden State after underperforming with Minnesota.