The Washington Wizards will reportedly be without one of their key players when the 2019-20 season restart begins on July 30.
Forward Davis Bertans is in the midst of a career-best season but will sit out the restart, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim Bontemps, in a preventative measure. Bertans is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is likely in line for a big payday — either from the Wizards or another team on the market. Per Wojnarowski, the Wizards fully support Bertans’ decision to sit out.
ESPN story on Washington's Davis Bertans — a top unrestricted free agent — deciding to sit out the NBA's restart in Orlando. https://t.co/hY5yRJR3M9
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2020
The Wizards acquired Bertans last summer in a three-team trade betweeen the San Antonio Spurs, Brooklyn Nets and Washington. He has taken his game to new heights, averaging career highs in scoring (15.4 ppg), 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage (42.4%), rebounds (4.5 rpg) and assists (1.7 apg).
His 200 total 3s in 2019-20 rank seventh in the NBA and — in just 54 games — put him 23 from tying Bradley Beal’s Wizards franchise record for makes in a season.
Bertans is in the second season of a $14.5 million, two-year contract he signed when he was with the Spurs, and based on his $7 million salary this season he would be forfeiting around $600,000 in gross salary for the eight games that he definitely would be missing.
If the Wizards were to reach the playoffs, the total lost salary could rise to as much as approximately $900,000, depending on how many games Washington plays.
Washington, which is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, is the only East team outside the current playoff picture invited to the season restart. The returning teams are the 16 teams in current playoff positions and the six teams — Washington, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix — that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.
The Orlando Magic hold the No. 8 spot in the East, whom the Wizards trail by 5 1/2 games. Each team in the restart is slated to play eight seeding games, which would take place before the 2020 playoffs begin. The games would be selected from a team’s remaining regular-season matchups.
The Wizards, according to a rules memo distributed to teams and obtained by the AP, will be allowed to sign a replacement player for Bertans as early as Tuesday. Bertans would be classified as an “excused player,” which means he forfeits salary but is not subject to any disciplinary action from the league for choosing not to play.
The National Basketball Players Association and the NBA have been in agreement for some time that any player who does not feel safe being part of the restart would not have to participate.
Star guard John Wall recently declared himself fully recovered after two operations that sidelined him for the past 1 1/2 years and said he is “itching” to get back on the court next season. Wall has not played in an NBA game since December 2018.
Surgery for bone spurs in his left heel ended that season; while he was working his way back from that, he tore his left Achilles tendon and needed another operation in 2019.
That held Wall out for all of the current season, which was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.