A five-year contract for $ 80 million can give a man a lot of leeway.
Davis Bertans, whom the Wizards practically made their top priority in the free agency the moment they decided not to trade him by the early February deadline, is clearly confident. He is happy to be back in Washington and even happier to have settled in for a long stay.
The Wizards are equally delighted: Bertans may not be the franchise the team at Bradley Beal and John Wall have, but the three-point specialist is the foundation of what Washington wants to push forward. They made sure Bertans knew how much he was wanted and had owner Ted Leonsis along with general manager Tommy Sheppard, coach Scott Brooks and other senior members of the organization on a Zoom call to Latvia as soon as the free agency started on Friday night .
The fact that they signed the 28-year-old again without much ado has given the team stability.
“What we got was one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, but a devious basketball player with an extremely high IQ, one of the best transition defenders, quiet, there is, especially in his size.” Sheppard said in a press conference earlier this week.
Washington also gets a ton of points when the season kicks off on December 22nd. Bertans averaged career highs in points (15.4), rebounds (4.5) and three-point points (3.7) last year. He finished sixth in the league with three points (42.4).
The hardest part of the free agency was having to wait so long to sign.
“We should be in this position in early July,” said Bertans. “I’m just waiting for the moment when it’s actually allowed to speak to the teams and we can see what’s out there. Tommy and the wizards talked about me staying. But until it comes to a free hand, you actually get the call the team asks you to call. You can’t be sure. I was glad it wasn’t just a conversation from Tommy and the whole team that they really, really wanted me to come back. ”
At a moment last week when Wall announced he was leaving Washington, Beal made it clear that the team would need to win more games to keep him close, and the Wizards have a multitude of young and new players Training camps that they can experiment with, Bertans’ role this season and beyond is possibly the best-laid thing in Washington.
Plain and simple, the striker is a shooter. What he focused on most in the off-season was what he did best – drilling deep bombs behind the arch. Bertans would like to improve on the defensive, but knows that its effect is greatest on the offensive. He doesn’t care whether he starts or comes off the bench or how many minutes he plays, just that he contributes and has permission to shoot as much as he sees fit.
The confidence his teammates and coaches had in his game was the biggest draw for singing again in Washington.
“Last season when I joined the team I had the ultimate green light, as I used to do in Europe and that’s my favorite way to play,” said Bertans.
The promise to finally have Wall and Beal in court at the same time was also big bait. Bertans has never played with the franchise’s point guard and only saw him cinematically during the 2017 playoffs. He said the only guard he’s ever played alongside anything comparable to Wall’s abilities was DeMar DeRozan on the 2018-19 San Antonio Spurs, Bertan’s most productive year with the team.
He hopes Wall’s passing ability and speed will boost his shooting rates even further.
But even if the squad takes longer than the team expected and Wall is fit again after a two-year injury-related break, Bertans is happy to be part of the journey.
“In this team, coaches trust me, teammates trust me, you can’t just take that anywhere. Maybe some teams are better able to win a championship, but for me I’m happier when I’m part of a team that is growing together and then maybe have the chance to win a title, ”said Bertans. “Even if it happens 15 years from now, if I’m part of the first steps in helping an organization get to championship, I’ll be happy with it. I was always happier in the team that is considered an outsider than in the team that is supposed to win. ”