Wizards power forward Davis Bertans checks all the boxes as a potential trade candidate. He’s on an affordable expiring contract, plays for a lottery-bound team, and is enjoying a career year, 15.4 PPG on .466/.456/.889 shooting through 24 games.
However, as we reported last week, the Wizards don’t intend to actively shop Bertans, since they’ll retain his Bird rights after this season and are in position to re-sign him. General manager Tommy Sheppard confirmed this week in an appearance on the team’s “Off the Bench” podcast that trading Bertans isn’t currently in the team’s plans.
“We have every intention of retaining him. He’s the exact type of player we want to have in our organization. I think he wants to be here. Business will take care of itself,” Sheppard said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “There’s so much chit-chat in this league that gets out there. Most of it is contrived by the teams that would love to have Davis. Well, guess what? One of the teams that would have to have him, has him. We intend to keep him. We’re excited about his growth.”
The Wizards are currently 7-17 and seem unlikely to turn things around this season, so Bertans won’t help much in the short term. Still, there are a number of reasons why Washington would want to keep him beyond this season. He just turned 27 years old last month, and with John Wall expected to return from his Achilles tear in 2020/21, the Wizards are hopeful that their rebuilding process can move quickly. The club figures to be seeking win-now pieces like Bertans as early as next summer.
Still, just because the Wizards are talking about keeping Bertans now doesn’t mean they can’t reconsider their stance over the next couple months. As Fred Katz of The Athletic observes, team owner Ted Leonsis spoke last season about not trading Otto Porter, but Washington went ahead and did just that at the deadline.
Additionally, with so much money already invested in their backcourt, the Wizards may have second thoughts about how significantly they want to invest in Bertans’ next contract. One former front office person estimated last week that the sharpshooter would command $15-20MM on the open market. Even the least optimistic projection for Bertans would probably still mean a deal in the neighborhood of $10MM per year, per Katz.
For those reasons, contending teams figure to at least call the Wizards about Bertans this winter. For now though, Sheppard’s group is insisting the Latvian big man isn’t going anywhere.