Nov 20, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans (42) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) in the second quarter at Capital One Arena. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Trading away Davis Bertans was a mistake on the part of the San Antonio Spurs’ front office, but is it possible for them to bring him back in free agency?
Moving off of Davis Bertans was one of the worst decisions that the San Antonio Spurs have made in recent years. Including him in a trade package for a more desirable player is nothing to fret about, but moving him for absolutely nothing put a dent in the team’s reputation. It doesn’t help that a year after his departure, the team is outside the playoff picture with an unclear future.
Now, the team could have a chance to pursue the Latvian Laser once again. An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Bertans is set to hit the open market with an opportunity greater than ever perceived. Before this point in his career, he was known only as a role player with a lanky frame and a clean 3-point jump shot. However, teams have come to understand that he’s capable of much more than just the occasional triple.
Bradley Beal after Davis Bertans' 6th 3-pt FG ? pic.twitter.com/WYqi0GZ8uo
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 11, 2019
By this point in his career, Bertans is well-known as one of the most talented marksmen in the sport with incredible range and consistency as a volume shooter. In his role with the Washington Wizards, Bertans hit 42.4 percent of his shots from deep including 200 makes in 54 games. Bertans joined Duncan Robinson as the only two players in the NBA to make at least 40 percent of at least eight 3-pointers per game.
This has put a premium on his contractual outlook that the San Antonio Spurs would need to reach in this unique free agency class.
Next: How could Bertans land with the Spurs?
Apr 3, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Davis Bertans (42) shoots against the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
What would it take for the San Antonio Spurs to sign Davis Bertans?
First and foremost, there’s no way to sign Bertans and retain DeMar DeRozan without trading away someone like LaMarcus Aldridge. Essentially, DeRozan’s contract is in the way of having enough cap space to offer a contract to the NBA’s newest hot commodity. Expectations are that some team is going to throw a tremendous contract in Bertan’s direction to sustain their 3-point shooting load and transform their offense.
There is one other way for the San Antonio Spurs to get Bertans, but it’d be the most unlikely of options. A sign-and-trade with the Washington Wizards is a possibility, but considering the team gave him up for what quite literally became nothing, that’d be a shot to the organization’s pride. The likelihood of this being the case is slim to none in my opinion.
However, there’s a sliver of hope for this San Antonio Spurs team in the sense that trades may be imminent. With players on expiring contracts across the board, San Antonio could find itself absorbing assets for veteran players to even out the roster and rotation. They may end up with a plethora of draft assets and young players, in which case there will be enough money to go around.
Let’s say DeRozan opts out and tells the team he will not return. They don’t have all too much of a reason to keep other veterans around at that point, so we could see Aldridge, Gay and Mills enter trade conversations as well. If they were to do that and focus on the future, Bertans could return at his anticipated market rate, which could be as low as $12 million per year and could be as high at $17.5 million.
This, however, wouldn’t be the most impactful roadblock in bringing Bertans back to San Antonio.
Next: Would Bertans even want to come back?
Jan 27, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Davis Bertans (42) dunks the ball past Washington Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) during a game at AT&T Center. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
Does Davis Bertans want anything to do with the San Antonio Spurs?
Imagine if your significant other ditched you for someone they thought would be a better fit. A year later, they realize how good they had it and ask to have you back. By this point, you’ve probably moved on and are looking for someone who values you. No, sports and relationships aren’t the same, but basic human reactions can be connected throughout contexts.
I'm a firm believer that a green light is the only difference between the Davis Bertans we saw this season and the one we saw with the Spurs.
As much as I would love to see him back in San Antonio, I have a feeling Pop would slot him right back into the same role he had before.
— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) October 23, 2020
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Bertans probably doesn’t want to come back to San Antonio after the organization ditched him for players who turned out to suck. It’s insulting to his abilities as a basketball player after years of contributions to a winning team. Even in a hypothetical world where the San Antonio Spurs had enough money to offer him a competitive deal, they’re not in a great scenario.
This team is in between eras with a lottery pick on the way and two stars who aren’t capable of leading a winning team in 2020. Granted they can each be valuable contributors to a solid team, neither has shown the initiative to take this franchise back into postseason contention. It’s a large reason why DeRozan hasn’t already opted into the final year of his deal in silver and black.
As of now, there’s a significant chance that San Antonio heads back to the NBA Draft lottery next season. Unless they make drastic, trajectory-altering trade or they pick their next superstar at No. 11, not much is going to change this offseason. Teams with much more appealing upside and playoff aspirations will have more money to throw at the 27-year-old on top of an opportunity to compete in meaningful games.
Unfortunately for the silver and black, this doesn’t seem like a chance for the Spurs to reunite with the sharpshooter.