For 3 new Wizards gamers, D.C. is acquainted and a possibility


One in every of Kyle Kuzma’s objectives after the Los Angeles Lakers dealt him to the Washington Wizards final summer season was to show an sudden commerce into a possibility. In quieter, smaller D.C., with fewer stars orbiting, Kuzma vowed to show he may very well be greater than an honest position participant — he may very well be a frontrunner.

That labored out splendidly for the ahead, who led the staff in factors scored final season. Now, Kuzma is spreading the nice phrase across the NBA, and it sounds one thing like this: Come to Washington. There’s area right here to make a reputation for your self.

“He noticed me final yr enjoying behind Trae [Young], enjoying like 12 minutes; some days I may not play,” stated Delon Wright, one of many Wizards’ newly acquired guards. “Right here, I really feel like the chance to indicate extra of what I can do. I’ve been bouncing round so much, adjusting to totally different methods. [Kuzma] is aware of what I can do, in order that was his recruitment pitch.

“He was in all probability a greater recruiter than [Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard]. He has GM in his future.”

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Wright was considered one of three players the Wizards launched this week as free company slows and rosters across the league — no less than these with no area for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — spherical into kind.

Wright, a 6-foot-5 guard; Monte Morris, a 6-2 level guard; and Will Barton, a 6-6 wing, have just a few issues in widespread, none stronger than a starvation to make hay on a roster begging for gamers to step into starring roles.

Wright, 30, has performed on six groups since 2018-19 and is striving to make the league’s all-defensive staff. He felt he wasn’t getting used adequately in Atlanta, his most up-to-date cease, and stated Tuesday that Kuzma — a former school teammate at Utah — bought him on Washington as a staff that wants sturdy defenders.

Morris, too, is raring to indicate he generally is a full-time starter. The 27-year-old was traded to the Wizards together with Barton after spending 5 seasons in Denver, the place he labored his approach onto the roster from the G League and contributed to 4 straight playoff appearances. Final season, he began 74 video games whereas Jamal Murray was recovering from a torn ACL and averaged 12.6 factors and four.four assists.

For Barton, who was a frequent member of the beginning lineup over his eight years in Denver, the commerce to Washington represents a unique type of alternative.

Barton, 31, is a Baltimore native and views the prospect to play in entrance of household and pals as sturdy motivation. He averaged 14.7 factors and shot 36.5 % from three-point vary final season, when he turned the Nuggets’ all-time chief in three-pointers. He’s additionally a standout passer for his place and averaged three.9 assists.

“Figuring out that the open man is the perfect man,” Barton stated Tuesday of his philosophy. “Get some simpler pictures, get some threes, and simply make the ball pop. I really feel like when the ball is popping and transferring, you will have extra enjoyable simply enjoying that type of basketball.”

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Barton is aware of his type of offense might be welcome in Washington as a result of he is aware of Coach Wes Unseld Jr. effectively from their time collectively in Denver.

That’s one other factor Wright, Morris and Barton have in widespread — all of them had sturdy ties to the Wizards earlier than touching down in D.C.

Morris and Barton have been with Unseld when he was an assistant with the Nuggets; Wright and Morris are shut with Kuzma; and Barton is from the area. He described himself as a giant brother to fellow Baltimore native Isaiah Todd, Washington’s second-year ahead.

For Morris, consolation equates to confidence. He’s trying ahead to reuniting with Unseld and enjoying along with his “finest buddy,” Kuzma, a fellow Flint, Mich., native whom he has recognized since their elementary faculty days. Coming to a brand new staff the place the coach already is aware of his recreation and he already has a supporter within the locker room means the purpose guard is extra doubtless to make use of his voice.

It needs to be a welcome asset on a staff that has struggled to speak on the court docket in previous seasons.

“I’m not going to be scared to talk up. I’m not going to be scared to offer my expertise with me enjoying quite a lot of playoff video games,” Morris stated. “… Guys are going to be taking a look at me to talk up and provides my information as a result of I’ve performed within the playoffs yearly I’ve been within the league.”

Barton feels the identical degree of consolation with Unseld. Past that, nestled within the mixture of enjoying for a brand new staff close to his previous metropolis, he senses a well-recognized alternative to create one thing sturdy and lasting with Unseld.

“We helped flip that factor round,” Barton stated of their time in Denver. “That’s the purpose right here — to do the identical.”

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