Wizards Rumors

Wizards Sign Jordan Schakel To Training Camp Contract

8:08pm: The Wizards have officially inked Schakel to an Exhibit 10 deal, the team announced today (via Twitter).

7:40pm: Rookie wing Jordan Schakel has signed a training camp contract with the Wizards, sources inform JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).

The 6’6″ Schakel went undrafted following a four-season San Diego State stint. During his final collegiate season in 2020/21, he averaged 14.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 1.0 SPG on .473/.461/.908 shooting. The 23-year-old was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team and to the Mountain West All-Tournament Team for his efforts.

Shaw notes that Schakel most recently suited up for the Kings’ championship-winning 2021 Summer League squad.

The revamped Wizards have 14 guaranteed contracts on their books heading into the 2021/22 season. The minimum-salary contract of center Daniel Gafford only becomes fully guaranteed on January 7, 2022, but it seems highly likely that Washington will re-up on the springy big man. Washington has one of its two two-way contract openings still available.

Schakel could conceivably compete for the Wizards’ available two-way slot in training camp. Should that not transpire, he could still log time for the Wizards’ NBA G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. If Schakel can stick with the Go-Go for at least 60 days, he will earn a $50K bonus.

JD Shaw contributed to this report.

Oddsmakers May Be Underestimating Wizards

  • Oddsmakers don’t think much of the Wizards, but they may be underestimating what the front office did this offseason, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. PointsBet has a 34.5-win over/under line for the Wizards, 12th among Eastern Conference teams, and ESPN’s experts peg them as the 11th-best team in the conference. However, Washington improved its depth this summer and project to be an improved defensive unit, Hughes notes.

Playoffs Should Be Expectation For Unseld Jr.

  • With Wes Unseld Jr. entering his first season as the Wizards head coach, Chase Hughes and Andrew Gillis of NBC Sports Washington debate the topic of what would be considered a successful season for him. Both writers view a playoff appearance as the main expectation for a team that was eliminated in the opening round by Philadelphia last season.

How Wizards Can Avoid Rebounding Drop-Off

  • The Wizards drastically improved their rebounding numbers last season, but they’ll be missing Robin Lopez‘s box-out talents and will no longer have the league’s best rebounding point guard (Russell Westbrook) in 2021/22. With that in mind, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores how the team can avoid a significant drop-off in the rebounding department.

Wizards Notes: Offseason, Centers, Defense, Go-Go

The Wizards had an extremely busy offseason, headlined by the massive five-team trade that saw the team send Russell Westbrook to the Lakers and second-round picks all over the place, with the Wizards acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Aaron Holiday, and 31st overall pick Isaiah Todd.

The team is undeniably deeper now, but is it better? Zach Harper of The Athletic isn’t sure, but in his offseason report, he says Washington’s newfound depth ultimately wins out, assigning the team a B grade for its work this summer.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Harper asked Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Wizards’ beat writer, the same question. Katz thinks the team is about on par with where it was at the end of last season, in the range of the play-in tournament for the East.
  • In Katz’ own Q&A mailbag, he speculates that Daniel Gafford will be the Wizards’ opening night starting center, partly because Thomas Bryant is still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered last season. Katz notes that Gafford needs to improve his conditioning to play more minutes, and is reported to be a hard worker. It remains to be seen how Harrell will fit into the rotation once Bryant recovers, as Katz views Bryant as a better defender and a much better shooter.
  • Harper and Katz both believe Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma will help the team on defense, but the Wizards will likely miss Robin Lopez on both ends of the floor. The two Athletic writers are also curious to see how new coach Wes Unseld Jr. handles the rotations, because one drawback of having so much depth is the limited amount of minutes available for several talented players.
  • In a lengthy article on the team’s G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, Jackson Flynn of WashingtonWizards.com spoke to several members of the organization about how they utilize the Go-Go to develop not just their young players, but young coaches and front-office personnel as well. New Go-Go head coach Mike Williams is just 25 years old.

Kyle Kuzma Thought He Would Be Traded To Kings

Since it was one of the first major moves of the 2021 NBA offseason, it’s easy to forget now that the trade that sent Russell Westbrook from the Wizards to the Lakers didn’t initially look like it would happen.

The Kings and Lakers were pretty far down the road on a trade that would’ve sent Buddy Hield to Los Angeles. Multiple players who were eventually included in the Westbrook deal – likely Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell – would’ve headed to Sacramento if the Hield trade had been finalized, so the Lakers couldn’t have done both deals. When the opportunity to acquire Westbrook arose, the Lakers pivoted to negotiating a deal with the Wizards rather than finalizing one with the Kings.

Kuzma, rumored to be part of the return for Hield, ended up getting sent to Washington in the Westbrook trade. However, he acknowledged during an appearance on No Chill With Gilbert Arenas (video link via Bleacher Report) that he believed at one point in July that he was about to become a King.

“I was kind of shocked because I thought I was going to Sac,” Kuzma said of being dealt to the Wizards. “The Sacramento deal with Buddy Hield, that s–t was done. So I’m thinking in my head, ‘Yeah, okay, well, I’m in Sac, 45-minute flight, that’s not bad.’ … But then out of nowhere, it goes, ‘You’re going to Washington.'”

Kuzma, who spent the first four years of his NBA career in Los Angeles after being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, will be moving across the country rather than just elsewhere in California. However, he didn’t sound too disappointed about becoming a Wizard instead of a King, expressing excitement about the opportunity to team up with Bradley Beal in Washington.

“I was super hyped, obviously, because it’s a better situation (than Sacramento),” Kuzma said. “Going to Sac would’ve been fun, I would’ve went crazy for sure. But to have the opportunity to play with Brad Beal, someone that is trying to really be a winner in this league … It’s just a perfect opportunity. It’s a lot of guys that have chips on their shoulders, everyone’s ready to prove something. That’s when something can be special.”

Kuzma isn’t the only one whose 2021 offseason would look a lot different if the Lakers had completed a deal for Hield instead of Westbrook. That decision had a major impact on the subsequent summer moves made by the Lakers, Kings, and Wizards. If L.A. had gone in another direction, it would’ve had a ripple effect on a handful of teams and players, including perhaps Richaun Holmes, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, among others.

Defense Appears To Be Upgraded

Atlantic Notes: Dragic, Christian, Hernangomez, Jordan

The Raptors and Goran Dragic have not engaged in buyout talks, according to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz (Twitter link), who says a report stating the point guard is on track to sign with the Mavericks is inaccurate. Dragic, who was acquired in the sign-and-trade with Miami that sent Kyle Lowry to the Heat, still has trade value, which gives Toronto less incentive to explore a possible buyout.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics have hired Jarell Christian as the head coach of their G League affiliate in Maine, according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. Clevis Murray was the first to report that Christian was expected to fill that position (Twitter link). Christian, 35, has been in the Wizards’ organization since 2019. He spent one season as head coach of the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s NBA G League affiliate, before becoming an assistant coach last season.
  • The pending acquisition of Juan Hernangomez by the Celtics from the Grizzlies is a low-risk move, Jay King of The Athletic writes. Boston gave up two guards who probably wouldn’t have been in the rotation and the pick swap wasn’t a huge sweetener, King continues. Hernangomez could help them space the floor with his perimeter shooting and if he doesn’t pan out, his 2022/23 salary of $7.4MM can be cast off, since it’s not guaranteed.
  • By trading DeAndre Jordan rather than waiving him and using the stretch provision over five years, the Nets made a wise financial move, as Bobby Marks of ESPN’s explains (Twitter link). The agreed-upon trade with the Pistons allows Brooklyn to avoid have dead money on the cap, which is essential for a luxury tax team. They also shed his salary over the next two seasons and acquired players on smaller contracts, which will reduce their tax liability in the short run.

Davis Bertans Not Expendable For Wizards

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.

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.