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'Winning is important:' Davis Bertans' agent on his future in DC

'Winning is important:' Davis Bertans' agent on his future in DC

For the first quarter of the Wizards’ season, Davis Bertans has been one of the high points. He began games sitting on the bench, but has quickly become a fan favorite, is second on the Wizards with 15.4 points per game this season and is shooting 45.6 percent from three on 8.5 attempts per game.

So when it comes to the team’s offseason moves, he ranks at the top.

And according to Bertans’ longtime agent, Arturs Kalnitis, the appreciation is mutual.

"Tommy [Sheppard] has done an incredible job of putting together this staff, team, and the players feel super cared about. It's been an all-around great experience," Kalnitis said in a phone interview last week. "After Davis' first two weeks with the team, he called me and said, 'This is great.'

"Davis is super confident in Washington and this situation really allows him to showcase his abilities. If he stays in D.C. next season they'll have an even more interesting dynamic with John [Wall] healthy. Davis truly believes they can be a force in the East so I'm sure that will be a strong point for him," Kalnitis added. "Winning is important."

Shortly after the interview, Sheppard, on a Wizards’ team podcast, said Bertans was in his plans for the future. “We have every intention of retaining him,” he said. “He's the exact type of player we want to have in our organization.”

Among the reasons to want him with the Wizards: his shooting. While Bertans’ shooting may be a pleasant surprise for Wizards fans, Kalnitis expected it. 

Kalnitis has been representing Bertans for the past 11 years. He's the man who facilitated Bertans' first contract in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

"Him shooting at this clip isn't a surprise to me whatsoever," Kalnitis said. "When Davis was 12 or 13 years old he had a game in which he shot 12-for-12 from 3-point range. He's an incredible basketball player."

Though Sheppard seems invested in Bertans at least for now, the future is a little murkier. While Bertans is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, Washington holds his Bird Rights -- the ability to exceed its salary cap in order to re-sign him at any amount up to the maximum salary.

"This will be an interesting summer for Davis as many teams are high on him," Kalnitis said. "Every team needs players like him to win a championship."

So while he may remain a Wizard at the trade deadline, his offseason plans depend a lot on just how much Washington is willing to put up to keep him - and what market they’ll be competing against.

However, one thing's for certain: Bertans is going to continue to take advantage of the role he's playing in Washington. 

"Knowing him, he's not thinking about any of that right now -- he's trying to be the best Wizard he can be. It's all about winning."
 

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NBA reportedly working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition while players are in isolation

NBA reportedly working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition while players are in isolation

While we wait for the 2019-20 NBA season to return from suspension, the league may have found another way to entertain us. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition featuring several high-profile players, though they are unnamed as of now. 

In this case, players would shoot by themselves, presumably at their homes, and go shot-for-shot with other players remotely. The great thing about H-O-R-S-E is all you need to be able to do is shoot, leaving the door open for former players like Paul Pierce to get in on the fun. 

This wouldn't be the first time we've seen NBA players playing H-O-R-S-E on television. Back in 2010, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo and Omri Casspi played each other in H-O-R-S-E as a part of All-Star weekend. As you'd expect, Durant won. 

This follows the NBA kickstarting the first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament Friday, where 16 NBA stars play each other in an NBA 2K20 tournament for charity. Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura headline the event that is expected to run until April 11. 

According to Woj, the details on the H-O-R-S-E competition are still being finalized with the league and ESPN, who'd ultimately air the event. 

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Kobe Bryant posthumously highlights loaded 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant posthumously highlights loaded 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant’s resume has yet another entry to prove his greatness: He’s now, officially, a Hall of Famer.

And he’s got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class, one that may be as glitzy as any.

Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.

They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.

“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him,” Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said -- as if there was going to be any doubt -- that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.

Bryant's death has been part of a jarring start of the year for basketball: Commissioner Emeritus David Stern died on Jan. 1, Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine who died in the crash in late January, and the NBA shut down March 11 as the coronavirus pandemic began to grip the U.S.

“Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate," Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, said on the ESPN broadcast of the class announcement. “But it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here. So we’re incredibly proud of him."

Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.

“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Colangelo said.

Garnett is the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals. He also was part of Boston's 2008 NBA title.

“This is the culmination," Garnett said. “All those hours ... this is what you do it for, right here. To be able to be called ‘Hall of Famer' is everything."

Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn’t understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.

Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.

The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well.

For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran’s, Women’s Veteran’s, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.

With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the top NBA trio to ever enter simultaneously, the Hall wanted to make sure that no enshrinee would be overlooked.

“We didn’t need to water it down,” Colangelo said. “Next year is another year for many.”

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