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2020 NBA Free Agency: Wizards first team to meet with Bertans — UPDATED

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Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards
The Wizards hope to retain free agent forward Davis Bertans
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

9:33 p.m. Eastern: Reportedly, the Wizards meeting with Bertans has ended and he’s now meeting with the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile, the Wizards signed sharpshooting international free agent forward Anthony Gill.

Multiple reports say the Wizards were first in line to meet with free agent forward Davis Bertans. Reportedly, Bertans was willing to make a deal and cancel the rest of his scheduled meetings if Washington agreed to his salary demands: four years and $72 million.

The meeting reportedly began at 6 p.m. Eastern and is still going, which could be an indication that the Wizards weren’t ready to go that high initially.

Bertans, one of the NBA’s elite long-range shooters, figures to be one of the more coveted free agents in 2020. While less developed in other aspects of his game, Bertans shot 42.4% from three-point range on nearly 14 attempts per 100 team possessions. Only James Harden, Buddy Heild and D’Angelo Russell had more three-point attempts per possession than Bertans last season. None of the other three cracked 40% from long range.

Perhaps the most comparable shooter was the Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson, who hit 44.6% on 13.8 attempts per 100 team possessions.

Re-signing Bertans is a key part of General Manager Tommy Sheppard’s plan to quickly reload around Bradley Beal and a returning John Wall. The Wizards front office and coaching staff want to see Bertans on the floor with Wall.

If the Wizards decline to meet Bertans’ salary request, the forward is expected to proceed with scheduled meetings. Reportedly, he has interest in multiple teams with sufficient cap space to sign the unrestricted free agent. In addition, several teams have contacted the Wizards about potential sign-and-trade possibilities.

My prediction for months has been that Bertans would end up signing for a contract similar to the four years and $73.1 million Bojan Bogdanovic got from the Utah Jazz last summer. I was also skeptical that NBA teams would exhibit restraint in signing free agents after sustaining financial losses due to the pandemic. So far, the three-year, $25 million contract for Mason Plumlee, and the four-year, $52 million deal for Jordan Clarkson would seem to suggest that skepticism was warranted.

For now, the Wizards remain the front runners to retain Bertans. It probably won’t be a good sign if the meeting ends without an agreement, however.