98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
While a push from a coalition of NBA players has raised questions about who will or won’t return to the court when the NBA tips off in Orlando this summer, two players have officially opted out of the return for their own reasons.
In Washington, the Wizards have been informed that Davis Bertans will opt not to play in the club’s pursuit of a playoff qualification. Bertans, a pending free agent, is due for a massive cash-in this offseason, be it with the Wizards or elsewhere, entered the pause averaging a career-best 15.4 points per game and shooting 42.4 percent from deep. The 27-year-old Bertans, who has torn his ACL twice since 2013, reportedly has the support of the organization.
“Davis is about to sign the biggest deal of his life, so he would be taking a big risk by playing,” Bertans agent, Arturs Kalnitis, told HoopsHype. “It wasn’t a tough decision, to be honest. If the Wizards were in the fifth or sixth seed (or maybe even the eighth seed), it would be completely different. Davis is a competitor. But in this situation, he decided to sit out.”
The Wizards will enter the restart five and a half games out of the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, and will need to finish within four games of the eight seed by the end of the eight-game regular season finish to trigger a play-in tournament to qualify for the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Without Bertans, and with John Wall not expected to play, those already-slim odds just took a significant hit.
The Blazers’ Trevor Ariza, meanwhile, will opt out of playing in the restart to spend a one-month visitation window with his son, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Ariza, a starter, has been involved in a custody case over his 12-year-old son, and the mother’s decision to grant a court-ordered, one-month visitation period during the league’s quarantine of teams in Orlando led Ariza to choose his parenting responsibilities over competing with the Blazers in the 22-team restart, sources said.
The 34-year-old Ariza, acquired from the Kings in January in exchange for two players and two second-round picks, has averaged 11 points and 4.8 rebounds in 21 games for the Blazers.
The Blazers are currently three and a half games out of the eight seed in the West.
Bertans and Ariza may not be the only ones who choose to sit out the restart, as questions remain regarding the Lakers’ Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley. Both players are among those in the coalition questioning the NBA’s motives for a return, and while the Lakers reportedly expect Howard to play when things kick off on July 30, the same cannot be said for Bradley just yet.