As the NBA inches toward its 22-team restart of the 2019-20 season in Orlando, many factors are still up in the air. In addition to health concerns related to COVID-19, several players have voiced concerns through the lens of activism. From there, there are financial concerns for players that are pending free agents and/or candidates for contract extensions after the 2019-20 season ends. One such example is Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, who will reportedly become the first player to choose to sit out the restart for basketball/financial reasons.
Reporting with @TimBontemps: Washington Wizards F Davis Bertans has decided to sit out the Orlando restart, sources tell ESPN. Bertans is entering free agency off of his most productive NBA season – with two ACL injuries in his past.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2020
Wojnarowski describes this choice as a “preventative measure” for Bertans, while also bringing word that the Wizards “fully support” the decision. While it may seem strange to some, Bertans is perhaps the prime example of a player with real incentive to stay out of the bubble, especially when considering all of the factors in play for his individual case.
Bertans, who will turn 28 years old in November, just enjoyed the best season of his career, averaging 15.4 points per game and knocking down 42.4 percent of his three-point attempts on immense volume. The 6’10 forward is also approaching unrestricted free agency and, while he did earn $7 million in each of the past two seasons, Bertans is set to command a substantial raise, either from the Wizards or another suitor.
Finally, there is the reality that the Wizards are not exactly set up to make a substantial run toward the NBA title. Washington enters the bubble with the worst record among the 22 invited teams and, even with eight seeding games on deck, the Wizards are a long-shot to even make the playoffs, much less to knock off the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors in the first round. To that end, it is fully understandable that Bertans would choose the safe route, especially with documented injury history and the likelihood that his next contract could be the largest of his career.
Bertans could, however, be surrendering a bit of salary for the 2019-20 season as part of this move.
If Washington does not advance past the seeding games, Davis Bertans will forfeit $604,752 ($75,594 for 8 games missed). Bertans is projected to be one of the top unrestricted free agents this summer. Makes sense to sit out based on future earnings.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 22, 2020
In the grand scheme, it is more than worth it from a financial standpoint for Bertans, especially when considering that the Wizards have voiced a desire to retain his services, presumably on a lucrative contract. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the league reacts but, in short, the logistics of Bertans’ situation are perfectly designed for this decision, and it is tough to find fault in what he is doing.