Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, the team’s best three-point shooter and a prized soon-to-be free agent, will not play when the NBA season resumes July 30 near Orlando.
Bertans, who has not practiced since the NBA shut down in mid-March, felt that attempting to come back and play in the league’s bubblelike environment would “not be the smartest thing to do,” according to a person familiar with his mind-set.
The Wizards (24-40) received an invitation to the NBA’s scheduled restart but are the only returning Eastern Conference team not currently in the playoff picture.
Bertans, 27, has been the only player on the Wizards’ roster to inform management of plans to sit out, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, but his decision does not affect the Wizards’ desire to re-sign him.
Bertans is shooting 42.4 percent from three-point range, tied for seventh best in the NBA, and he made exactly 200 three-pointers in 54 games. He participated in the three-point contest during All-Star Weekend in February, and the Wizards shot down trade offers for him around that time.
Before his breakout season after joining the Wizards from the San Antonio Spurs via a three-team trade last July, Bertans overcame a history of major injuries in Europe and a limited role during the first three years of his NBA career. While playing in Spain in March 2015, Bertans tore his right ACL for the second time. The injury made Bertans realize he needed to make a lifestyle change, so he cut out junk food and became a pescatarian.
“The second time it happened, that’s when I started thinking: ‘I’ve got to change something. I can’t keep doing the same thing all over again and maybe come back to the same result,’ ” Bertans said in an interview this season. “And food was one of the things I always knew I needed [to be] healthy.”
Bertans made his NBA debut with the Spurs in 2016 and came off the bench primarily as a spot-up three-point specialist. He made 59.6 percent of his corner threes during the 2018-19 season, but his range expanded and his confidence bloomed after his arrival in Washington, as seen on a December night when he trash-talked a former Spurs coach after going 8 for 12 from deep.
“In terms of the way he shoots it,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said when asked whether Bertans is the best shooter he has ever had as a teammate, “he’s number one, for sure.”
The Wizards will be permitted to sign a player to replace Bertans for the remaining games in Florida. The NBA transaction window opens Tuesday, allowing all 30 teams to make roster moves. Although his season has ended, Bertans will continue to work out with the team ahead of its departure in early July. He will then return to his home in Latvia.
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