Today, Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans became the first player to officially announce that he has opted out of playing at Walt Disney World next month. Players have until June 24 to notify their team of this decision.
Bertans’ agent, Arturs Kalnitis, explained why his client chose not to play.
“To be completely honest, Davis was prepared to play and then he made a last-minute decision to sit out,” Kalnitis told HoopsHype. “We’re playing the cards that we were dealt. When the NBA announced that players who sit out wouldn’t face consequences and would just lose 1 percent of their salary for each game missed, we sat down to discuss this. Davis is about to sign the biggest deal of his life, so he would be taking a big risk by playing. It wasn’t a tough decision, to be honest. If the Wizards were in the fifth or sixth seed (or maybe even the eighth seed), it would be completely different. Davis is a competitor. But in this situation, he decided to sit out.”
Bertans is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Those who choose not to play will lose a portion of their pay (1/92 of the money owed to them for each game missed), but they won’t face any consequences.
Washington is 24-40, which puts them in the East’s ninth seed (5.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic). Kalnitis said that the Wizards were very understanding when Bertans informed them of his decision.
“Davis and [GM] Tommy Sheppard have been talking on a daily basis,” Kalnitis said. “The Wizards have known about Davis’ decision for a few days, and Davis told his teammates before it was reported too. They have been so supportive. Tommy is the best. I really like his work, and he and Davis have a special connection. I wasn’t there when Davis informed Tommy and the Wizards of his decision, but Davis told me that they had a pleasant conversation and they were very supportive.”
When asked why Bertans is sitting out, Kalnitis said that there were a number of factors that went into this decision – including the injury risk. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted, Bertans has had two ACL injuries in the past.
“The injury risk played a role in Davis’ decision, but it wasn’t the only factor,” Kalnitis explained. “I haven’t mentioned this before, but Davis has an insurance policy that kicked in at the start of the season so if he gets injured, he has a big, fat check coming his way. So, it wasn’t just the injury risk. I don’t want to go into details, but the injury risk did play a part in the decision.
“After not playing for four months, a few weeks isn’t enough time to get ready and return to playing. We’re not the only ones who are concerned about this. I’m not going to speculate on how many players will sit out, but we aren’t the only ones who are concerned. I saw that Jayson Tatum and a few other players who are on the verge of signing a big deal this summer raised some concerns [and got insurance policies].”
If the Wizards miss the playoffs, Bertans will lose $520,000 of his $7,000,000 salary for sitting out, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It remains to be seen if Bertans has played his final game with the Wizards.
“Everyone is wondering about his free-agency plans and what he’s going to do this summer,” Kalnitis said. “All I’ll say is that Davis loves Washington and as soon as free agency starts, they will be the first team that we meet with.”
The 27-year-old forward just had a career-year, averaging 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.7 threes and 1.7 assists while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range.
Washington has repeatedly said that they’re focused on the future and that this season is about more than wins and losses (which is the same reason why John Wall isn’t returning until next year).