Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans will skip the Disney-based resumption of the NBA season, making him the first known example of a healthy, eligible player sitting out.
Bertans can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is expected to command a big contract as one of the league's top three-point shooters.
Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard told The Associated Press on Monday that Bertans had informed the team of his decision. The Wizards are allowed to sign a replacement player for Bertans as early as Tuesday, and Sheppard said the club will look at it closely.
Bertans' plan to miss the remaining games was first reported by ESPN.
In his first season with Washington after being acquired from the San Antonio Spurs as part of a three-team deal in July 2019, the 6ft 10in, 225lb forward from Latvia was averaging 3.7 made three-pointers per game, tied for fourth in the NBA when play was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak. He was shooting 42.4 per cent from beyond the arc.
His 200 total threes in 2019-20 rank seventh in the NBA and, in just 54 games, put him 23 triples shy of tying Bradley Beal's Wizards franchise record for three-pointers made in a season. The 27-year-old was averaging 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists as a reserve for Washington when the season was halted in March.
The league intends to resume its season in late July with 22 of 30 teams playing eight games apiece in a bubble set up at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Florida, before the playoffs begin there in mid-August.
Bertans is in the second season of a $14.5m, two-year contract he signed when he was with the Spurs, and based on his $7m salary this season he would be forfeiting around $600,000 in gross salary for the eight games that he definitely would be missing. If the Wizards were to reach the playoffs, the total lost salary could rise to as much as approximately $900,000, depending on how many games Washington play.
Bertans would be classified as an excused player, which means he forfeits salary but is not subject to any disciplinary action from the league for choosing not to play.
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the NBA have been in agreement for some time that any player who does not feel safe being part of the restart would not have to participate.
The Wizards are 24-40 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. That puts them five games behind the Orlando Magic, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. But the NBA's format for the restart of the season gives Washington some more playoff hope because they only will need to shave one game off that gap to reach a play-in series that will determine the No 8 seed in the East.
Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza reportedly will opt out of the NBA's restart in order to make himself available for a one-month visitation window with his 12-year-old son.
According to ESPN, Ariza and his son's mother are involved in a "custody case", and the one-month visitation period fell during the 22-team NBA restart, which is set to begin on July 30.
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Ariza, who has started all 21 games with the Trail Blazers after his trade from the Sacramento Kings on January 21, will miss out on at least $1m in salary by skipping the end of the regular season. He could miss out on as much as $1.8m depending on how far Portland advance in the playoffs.
At 29-37, the Trail Blazers are three-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. Ninth-place teams that finish within four games of the No 8 spot in their conference will be eligible for a play-in tournament for the final playoff spot.
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Ariza, who will turn 35 on June 30, is his 16th NBA season and has averaged 11 points and 4.8 rebounds since joining the Trail Blazers this season. In 1,064 career games (731 starts), he has averaged 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, then-New Orleans Hornets, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, Kings and Blazers.