One of the best parts of the NBA trade deadline every year is when unexpected deals pop up out of nowhere. Like, for example, the blockbuster between the Mavericks and Wizards that sent Kristaps Porzingis and a second-round pick to Washington, and Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans to Dallas.
On Saturday, prior to the Mavericks’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Bertans addressed the media for the first time as member of his new club. In the process he dropped some very revealing quotes about why things have gone south in Washington over the past few months.
“It’s tough to have team chemistry when every single day, the team is basically fighting with each other about ‘I want to get more minutes’ and ‘I want a bigger role.’” Bertans said. “That was probably the biggest part of struggles for most guys during the season. That kinda early on that doesn’t show up because everybody’s trying to figure out what’s going on. Once it starts going downhill, it’s really hard to turn around and start going up again.”
Bertans is not the first player to mention those sort of issues. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope recently told the media that players were complaining about minutes and touches, and that “egos and agendas” took over. It’s also worth noting that Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell (who the Wizards traded to the Charlotte Hornets at the deadline) reportedly had to be separated at halftime of a game earlier this season.
When there’s that much smoke, there’s always fire, and the effects were obvious. Since their red-hot 10-3 start, the Wizards have been a disaster. Injuries have not helped, of course, but there was clearly more going on behind the scenes as the team collapsed over the past few months. They’re 15-26 since that opening run, and have dropped all the way to 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
They’re only half a game out of the final play-in tournament spot, so their playoff hopes are not technically over, but it’s clear this team isn’t doing anything notable — especially with Bradley Beal out for the season after undergoing wrist surgery. The Wizards’ front office now has to look to the future, and quotes like this from Bertans and Caldwell-Pope show why they were busy at the deadline.