It’s been a busy week for the Washington Wizards.
On Wednesday, The Athletic reported that the Wizards made a splash on the eve of free agency, dealing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to Denver for point guard Monte Morris and veteran Will Barton.
Wizards Get Point Guard They Were Looking For
With the acquisition of Morris, the Wizards have filled their need at point guard. The 27-year-old should step right into a starting role in the backcourt alongside Bradley Beal.
Morris is considered more of a game-manager and assist-man than a score-first guard, but he’s more than capable of draining shots. In fact, his 58.3 true shooting percentage was 8th in the league among point guards last season. On the year, Morris averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 assists last campaign.
The point guard is owed around $18.9 million over the next two seasons, which will be a bargain for the Wizards as they look to lock up Bradley Beal to a super-max contract. Washington also owes Kristaps Porzingis close to $70 million over the next two years.
Barton should act as a capable wing, fitting in behind Beal on the depth chart. The 31-year-old vet averaged 14.7 points last season while playing over 30 minutes per game. He shot 43.8% from the field while draining 36.5% of his shots from beyond the arc.
Both players have ties to head coach Wes Unseld Jr. from their years in Denver when Unseld was an assistant.
Caldwell-Pope And Ish Smith Heading To Denver
The Wizards will say goodbye to Caldwell-Pope after just one season. The small forward/shooting guard put up 13.2 points last season while shooting 89% from the line. He was also solid without the ball in his hand, and his defensive skills should help shore up the Nuggets’ D, which has had its struggles.
With the deal, 33-year-old journeyman Ish Smith will be heading to his NBA-record 13th team. Both players’ contracts will expire at the end of the 2022-2023 season, giving Denver some financial flexibility.
Meanwhile, franchise cornerstone Bradley Beal declined his $36.4 million option but is expected to sign a max deal with the Wizards in the coming weeks, worth around $250 million over five years.
The 2022-23 NBA season is still several months away, but the rollout of sports betting in Maryland could bring more eyes to the upcoming season. Right now, Washington Wizards fans can place their NBA bets at five Maryland casinos while the state waits for mobile betting apps.