July 31 can't come soon enough! Fans are eager for NBA season to resume, and players can't wait to get back on the court. Well, some of them at least.
It's been reported that some players are opting'out of participation in the NBA's Orlando restart of the season. You got the likes of Trevor Ariza having to choose between playing ball and spending time with his 12-year old child, as Ariza's visitation period is at the same time as the season is set to resume. Ariza chose family over basketball, and no one can hold it against him.
Then you got Davis Bertans. The Latvian has decided to sit out NBA's restart in Orlando, as a preventive measure. Coming off two ACL injuries, Bertans is taking extra precaution, and will not be on Wizards' roster for the final eight games of the regular season, nor for the playoffs if Wizards were to get there.
Realistically, their chances of making it into post-season were slim, to begin with. Some would describe it as a massive blow for the Wizards. But my question is, what was there ceiling in the first place? Sure, not having one of the best sharpshooters in the league is a handicap, but be honest, has anyone envisioned them making the playoffs? I don't think so.
Bertans' decision is more of a financial nature. Coming off a career year, averaging 15.4 points, shooting .424 on 8.7 3PA, which is tied for the seventh-best three-point percentage in the NBA, he has made a name for himself. It's safe to say Davis is heading for a big, long-term payout, and it seems he's not willing to risk it.
You get the rationale behind his decision. I do, at least. Since arriving in the league in 2016, Bertans has made a total of around $16 million. Now, after finally getting a real shot of proving his worth, taking full advantage of it, a sharpshooter is ready to sit-out, leaving nothing to chance. And he will pay for it right away, as it's been reported that, in the case of the Wizards not advancing past the seeding games, he is set to lose $520,000 due to the Force Majeure clause. But it's nothing compared to the money he will receive when he signs his new contract.
Bertans is playing it safe, and it isn't hard to see why. Nevertheless, some don't like it. And by some, I mean Orlando's Evan Fournier. After the reports of the Latvian sitting-out, Fournier took on twitter and voiced his opinion on the situation.
It's your typical heart over brain type of situation, and as much I understand Bertans' decision, I understand where Fournier is coming from. If you can play, you should go out there and play, with no hidden agendas behind it. You're an athlete at the and of the day. You are a competitor. Throwing in the towel before the fight has even started shouldn't be in your character.
However you see Bertans' action, that's exactly what he's doing. If he was playing with a contender, do you really think he would sit out? I don't think so. This way, it makes it seem like he doesn't believe in a group he shares locker-room with. Maybe I'm going too deep. Perhaps it's an internal decision made hand in hand with the organization. In fact, it probably is, but what message does it send?
Don't get me wrong; I don't see the Wizards doing any damage as the season resumes. But I don't have to believe in it - professional athletes do. That's how they behave; it should be in their DNA. I'm not saying Bertans isn't like that; it just seems that he prioritized other things.
However, I can't think of Fournier not doing the same if he was in Bertans' shoes - especially in that stage of his career. Coming from a position of having estimated contract earnings of $75 million, it's easy to criticize other's actions. Evan has already established himself in the league and has already overgrown the mentality Bertans is in.
Does it give him the right to criticize Bertans? Well yeah, it's a free country. But do his words hold weight? I personally don't think so. As I said, I believe he would've done the same thing. In fact, he had a similar proving path in the NBA. When it was time to cash-out, do you really think he would've risked it? I honestly don't.
Let's face it, guys like Fournier and Bertans don't get too many opportunities like this. And when they do get it, they have to take full advantage of it. That's why I will side with Bertans on this one. Slightly, I should add. It just makes sense for him.
Let the man sign his contract. He will worry about winning later on. That's just how the NBA world works. No one thinks about winning at first; it's all about proving themselves for financial and other benefits, and Bertans is at that stage of his career. Perhaps even he didn't think he would get there, especially the way his NBA journey had started. But now he's got here, he should think about himself. NBA players, in general, have a small window of opportunity to cash in their hard work and talent. Bertans's might be even shorter, due to two ACL injuries. So yeah, it's rational to sit-out and focus on long-term benefits.
That's why Bertans is playing it safe. It may not be what we want from athletes, but it's the best decision for him personally. And that should be his priority in this stage of his career.