Wow! Friday was a big day for the Washington Wizards. I’m still trying to sort through it all, but here are the three quick takeaways that I got from it.
No. 1: When the Wizards said that they are building around Bradley Beal, they mean it.
The Wizards did not have much cap room heading into free agency so their top priority, naturally, was to re-sign Davis Bertans. Fortunately, he did with a five-year, $80 million contract. If they weren’t able to keep Bertans, it would be a lot harder for General Manager Tommy Sheppard to convince Beal that Washington is the place for him longer term. Star players want high level contributors with elite skills. Bertans has just that with his shooting.
The additions of Deni Avdija and Cassius Winston through the NBA Draft also add more “experienced youth” given that Avdija played at a very high level in the Israeli Premier League and Winston was Michigan State’s starting point guard for most of his college career, including a Final Four appearance in the 2018-19 season.
No. 2: Looks like Thomas Bryant is Washington’s starting center for now.
Over the past several weeks and months, I have seen and read many hypothetical trade deals where Thomas Bryant is traded or is ultimately relegated to being a backup center.
It’s possible that Bryant becomes a backup center if Washington can bring in a starter-level player from another team via a trade in the coming days. But for now, I don’t see Robin Lopez or Moritz Wagner overtaking Bryant on the roster.
No. 3: John Wall has to be traded sooner rather than later.
The trade rumors surrounding Wall and Russell Westbrook was crazy enough this week. But we’ve seen more details spill out about this news in the last 24 hours. The Wizards’ brass is not happy with some of Wall’s public display of gang signs. Wall apparently takes issue with the team’s new direction. AND Westbrook wants out of Houston while having a similar contract to Wall’s?
At a minimum, they brought the Wizards’ internal tensions to the surface, but I was surprised to see how quickly Wall’s apparent trade request was.
It will not be easy to trade Wall, whether for Westbrook or anyone else. But the Wizards can’t afford to enter the 2020-21 season with this kind of a shadow above their heads in my opinion.