WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards pulled the trigger on two trades before Thursday's trade deadline, but the most notable move was one they didn't make.
Despite fielding calls for months regarding sharpshooting forward Davis Bertans, the Wizards held firm and denied every offer. According to general manager Tommy Sheppard, nearly every playoff team in both conferences placed a call.
"There was never a doubt in my mind that we wanted to keep him. But I promise you that the more you say you want to keep somebody, the more teams don't want to believe you and they keep calling," Sheppard said.
There are two main reasons why the Wizards kept Bertans. One is they feel they can re-sign him in the summer. Bertans, 27, is on an expiring contract and will be an unrestricted free agent. The Wizards, though, have his Bird rights, which allow them to exceed the salary cap with his contract.
"I think just that overall we both agree this has been a great situation for us and it's been a great situation for him. When somebody tells me this is where they want to be, I take them at face value for that," Sheppard explained.
"Davis and I have had a great relationship, [same with] his agent. From Ted Leonsis on down; everybody in our organization has made it clear to Davis 'this is a great place for you and you've been great for us."
Another reason why Bertans is still in Washington is that he fits perfectly into the direction they want their roster to go. Bertans has emerged as one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA, this year shooting 42.9% on 8.4 attempts per game from long range.
Sheppard envisions Bertans running the floor with guards John Wall and Bradley Beal with Rui Hachimura carving up the midrange and their centers running to the rim.
"The shooting is the big aspect that is so exciting for us. That just opens up the floor when John Wall comes back," Sheppard said. "Fifty three-point field goal attempts a night will probably be the norm in the next two years or three years. That's where the game is going."
Sheppard also believes the benefits could be mutual for Bertans. Bertans was known as a shooter during his first three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, but he never averaged more than 4.4 attempts per game.
In Washington, Bertans is taking more shots yet he's still making them at the exact same rate he did last season.
"There is something to be said that this is a good system for him and he recognizes that," Sheppard said.
Both sides are a natural fit on the court, but whether the same is true in the negotiating room will be determined this summer when Bertans can sign a new contract. Because his last extension was for two years and not three or more, he has to wait until the offseason to negotiate a new deal.
And this year's free-agent class happens to be a thin one. Bertans is going to get paid a lot of money, whether it's from the Wizards or another team. Sheppard has bet on the fact he and the Wizards can find an agreement.
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