As expected, however, Washington retained one of its most attractive assets in Davis Bertans, an upcoming free agent who was recently named one of eight participants in the three-point contest at All-Star Weekend. Although Bertans, a 6-foot-10 forward, prompted interest from several playoff contenders, Washington did not get an offer to its liking. The Wizards will now aim to re-sign him.
Washington acquired Bertans in a three-team trade this past summer, and he has averaged career highs in minutes (29.3), points (15.0) and three-pointers made per game (3.6).
A day before the trade deadline, when he was asked if he would like to stay in Washington, Bertans responded: “Of course. I love it here.”
With Bertans still in the picture, the Wizards focused on their backcourt and took a chance on two players who have yet to make their marks in the league.
Robinson, a 6-foot-4 guard who played three years at Boston College and who participated in a pre-draft workout with the Wizards before being selected as the 13th overall pick in 2018, appeared in 42 games for the Clippers. On that loaded roster, Robinson could not carve out a niche and logged 20 or more minutes in a game only four times this season.
“Jerome was a lottery pick for a reason, and we will look to mold his talent and toughness at both guard positions as we develop him within our program,” Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “He is in need of an opportunity to prove himself and we are in the position to provide him with that.”
Napier, 28, has played on five teams in his six-season career. A 6-1 guard, he was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Nuggets on Tuesday night but didn’t play for Denver. Napier appeared in 36 games with the Timberwolves this season, averaging 9.6 points and 5.2 assists per game.
For the outgoing Wizards players, the trade means yet another fresh start.
McRae, who is averaging career highs of 12.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists, won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 but has searched for consistency in his four-season career. He spent last season as a two-way player with the Wizards and their G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. McRae fractured the tip of his ring finger during this season’s opener and required several procedures, and he later experienced setbacks with sprains in both his right and left ankles.
When Thomas, 30, signed with the Wizards this past summer, he proclaimed that he had found a team that believed in him. After enduring two years of rehabilitation, Thomas said he felt wanted in Washington and thought he could recapture the magic that made him an MVP runner-up before a 2017 hip injury cost him millions and altered the arc of his once-ascendant career.
“I’m just happy that somebody [is] on the path with me together to show people that I can still play at a high level,” Thomas said in July after agreeing to a one-year, veteran minimum deal with the Wizards.
Only seven months later, Washington ended the union.
In 40 games with the Wizards, Thomas averaged about 12.2 points on 40.8 percent shooting and 3.7 assists a game while filling in as the starting point guard in place of the rehabilitating John Wall. Thomas missed the first two games of the season as his thumb healed from surgery for a ruptured ligament, but he soon entered the starting lineup and remained there despite shaky performances.
Coach Scott Brooks “wants me to play well, obviously, and get what I deserve,” Thomas told reporters early in the season. “And that’s to get paid one day.”
Despite pledging, “I’m going to be an all-star again, for sure,” Thomas never quite became the dynamic scorer that he was during his 2016-17 MVP-caliber season with the Boston Celtics. He moved slower and didn’t have the lift on his floaters, often making his attempts easy prey for shot blockers. He developed a quirky yet effective one-legged, running three-point shot but used it sparingly, attempting 4.7 shots a game from deep, well below his average during his peak.
Furthermore, Thomas, an affable player who engages with fans, landed himself in several difficult situations.
In December, Thomas noticed a Philadelphia 76ers fan holding up both middle fingers and shouting obscenities at him, and he reacted by entering the stands to address the fan and his friend. Although Thomas appeared to admonish the man in a calm manner, he violated league rules by deliberately entering the stands.
Thomas defended his actions and expressed no regret for handling the situation as he saw fit, but he was suspended two games by the league. Thomas had to sit at a time when the Wizards had seven players out with injuries.
Then, on Jan. 3, Thomas again found himself on the wrong side of league rules. Just two minutes into a game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Thomas “made inappropriate contact” with an official, Marat Kogut. When Thomas extended his right hand into Kogut’s chest — though he said the contact was unintentional — the move was interpreted as a shove, and Thomas was ejected for the second time in two weeks. The Wizards, still facing a deficit of healthy players, lost by 19 points.
Despite the two incidents, the Wizards did not view Thomas as a distraction and felt his production was more than adequate considering that he was on a veteran minimum deal, according to several people affiliated with the team.
Washington should expect some additional changes over the remaining 33 games of the regular season. The team has already adapted to new starting lineups and adjusted rotations because of injuries frequently impacting the roster. More depth should arrive soon, despite Thomas Bryant suffering a setback in his recovery from a foot injury.
“Whether the lineup changes, that remains to be seen,” Brooks said, “but there’s definitely going to be minutes changes.”
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