San Antonio Spurs All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan could potentially be headed to the nation’s capital, according to Washington Wizards reporter Quinton Mayo.
The Washington Wizards have internally discussed a handful of names so far this off-season, I’m told:
DeRozan is willing to accept between $20-23M ($27.7M earned last year). Mutual interest is present.
— Quinton Mayo (@RealQuintonMayo) July 27, 2021
With Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal making $44 and $34 million respectively, the chances the Wizards would be able to sign DeRozan in free agency are next to zero. Orchestrating a sign-and-trade with the Spurs would be the most likely scenario if Washington decides this is an option they would like to pursue. Some combination of Davis Bertans and either Deni Avdija or Rui Hachimura would likely be included in the deal. Bertans being involved in a deal that sends him to San Antonio would be rather ironic, considering he spent the first three years of his career there.
Bertans is coming off a down year for Washington where his characteristically lights-out shooting was not as good as it has been in years past, and his defense was too poor to rationalize playing him for long stretches and key moments. His down-year and bloated $16 million a year contract would likely mean that the Spurs would want their pick of the Wizards’ young forwards as part of the deal.
By adding DeRozan, it is clear the Wizards are attempting to assemble something resembling a contending team while they still have Westbrook and Beal on the roster. Both have been repeatedly mentioned in trade rumors this offseason, with Beal in particularly being heavily coveted by teams like the Warriors and Lakers looking to add a marquee star that would make them title favorites. Trying to add a player of DeRozan’s caliber is undoubtedly a bid to keep Beal and Westbrook happy and committed to staying in the district, at least for the time being.
While DeRozan is an excellent player who has been named to the All-Star team four times and All-NBA twice, his fit with Washington’s roster is questionable. DeRozan has long been lauded for both his hesitancy to shoot 3-pointers and his lack of proficiency when he does so. In the 2021 season, the Wizards were 28th in 3-pointers made per game, 29th in 3-pointers attempted per game and 23rd in 3-point percentage. Adding another ball-dominant star to the mix who is not a threat from deep would create a spacing nightmare for a team that is already among the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league, especially if the sharpshooting Bertans has to be given up as part of the sign-and-trade.
Haphazardly throwing big-name players onto an NBA roster together with no regard for how their playstyles mesh is a cautionary tale as old as time. One only needs to hark back to memories of the 2013 Lakers trio Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, who barely made the playoffs as an eighth seed. In recent memory, the stagnant and clogged 2021 Philadelphia 76ers offense centered around documented non-shooter Ben Simmons and the reluctant-to-shoot Joel Embiid fizzled out spectacularly due to their inability to keep pace on the scoreboard against an efficient Hawks’ offense.
It is simply true that the playstyles of DeRozan, Westbrook and Beal would just not fit well together. On top of the spacing concerns, DeRozan and Westbrook are both heavily ball-dominant players, and neither of them are good enough defenders to play extended minutes with Beal, who is a statistical liability on that end of the floor. Hopefully, GM Tommy Sheppard realizes that this is an ill-advised move that might even expedite the process of Beal or Westbrook requesting a trade if the trio’s awkward fit leads to a slow start to the season.
All stats courtesy of Pro Basketball-Reference and ESPN
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