We already know about several NBA players that won’t play in the Orlando bubble due to injury or surgery recover (Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bojan Bogdanovic, John Wall, Kelly Oubre Jr.). However, the first healthy prominent NBA name (Wizards forward Davis Bertans) indicated he planned on not taking part in Orlando via a report via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.
The decision from Bertans should not come as a major surprise given his situation. The 27-year-old was in the midst of a career-year for the Wizards in the final year of his contract. He was averaging 15.4 ppg on the season and shooting a tremendous 42 percent from 3-point range. All of those factors made him a popular trade target for the Celtics and other contenders back in February but the Wizards held onto the sharpshooter with the hopes of re-signing him this offseason.
With the NBA’s restart looming next month, Bertans would be set to risk tens of millions of dollars in future earnings if he suffered a serious injury in the bubble before hitting the open market. Bertans has already suffered two ACL injuries so that’s understandably a risk he didn’t want to take due to a shortened training camp period on a team with little chance of making the postseason in Washington. Bertans will give up roughly $520,000 of his salary according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.com for sitting out in Orlando but stands to make far more in free agency this fall knowing he did not diminish his stock via injury or a lackluster performance in the bubble.
We already covered here at BSJ over the weekend why the Celtics declining to add a role player on an expiring deal in February looks like a wise choice now in the wake of this revamped schedule and this choice by Bertans also adds to that case. The Wizards will be able to replace Bertans on their 15-man roster with a replacement player if they choose to before heading to Orlando but it’s safe to say he will be far from the only player declining to take part in the NBA restart due to financial risk.
The Celtics stand to benefit more than most teams from Bertans' absence since they are projected to face the Wizards twice over eight seeding (regular season) games in Orlando (full schedule to be announced this week). No Bertans (the Wiz’s second-leading scorer) should help ensure the Celtics hold onto the No. 3 seed in the East over the Heat and give them a better chance of catching the Raptors for the No. 2 spot if they can put together a 6-2 or 7-1 stretch and make up a three-game deficit.
Bertans’ predicament begs the question though: Which players on the Celtics or other teams around the league that find themselves in a similar situation from a contractual risk standpoint (low upside in present, high downside for future) when it comes to competing in Orlando.
The good news for the Celtics?