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Wizards trade Deni Avdija to Trail Blazers, draft Alex Sarr with 2nd pick

When it came time for the Washington Wizards to make the second selection in Wednesday’s NBA Draft, they went with the expected pick and opted for 19-year-old Frenchman Alex Sarr, the versatile 7-foot big man with the highest development. ceiling in this year’s prospect class.

But the Wizards had already made it clear that they wouldn’t sit back and settle in for a routine night. Shortly before the draft began, they agreed to trade forward Deni Avdija to the Portland Trail Blazers for veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon, the 14th pick in Wednesday’s draft and a first-round pick in the 2029 draft, according to two people aware of the transaction. .

ESPN was first to report the trade, which fits with the Wizards’ overall goals as they begin their second year of rebuilding: looking to gather trade capital and preparing to acquire high lottery picks in the next drafts. There’s plenty of talent in the 2024 draft class, but none as enticing as Cooper Flagg, next year’s projected top pick who is expected to attend Duke for the upcoming season.

Meanwhile, Sarr — the second Frenchman selected in Wednesday’s draft after Atlanta took Zaccharie Risacher first, and the second straight Frenchman the Wizards have drafted after Bilal Coulibaly — is an excellent candidate. A fluid big man with an all-around game, he’s a talented shot blocker with the ability to shoot from the perimeter and a maturity that comes from playing in the Australian National Basketball League. He averaged 9.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 17.2 minutes per game for Perth, which had the second-best record in the NBL.

More importantly, his versatility and sky-high upside mean the Wizards will have options down the line. Make him a star and Sarr could shine in Washington in the long run. Or he could help Washington acquire a championship-caliber superstar down the line.

Sarr’s impending arrival is one thing that could help ease the pain of Avdija’s departure for fans. The other is that Washington flipped the 23-year-old for two first-round picks.

The Israel native had as close a season as possible playing for the second-worst team in the NBA, and he’s endeared himself to Wizards fans since the organization drafted him ninth overall in 2020 .

He averaged a career-high 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 50.6% from the field as the Wizards finished with a 15-67 record. And although he is only 23 years old, he has become a pillar of the locker room thanks to his seriousness and his sense of humor.

With Brogdon, the Wizards are preparing to take on a 31-year-old guard who is entering the final year of a contract owed him to the tune of $22.5 million. A former star player at Virginia, selected in the second round of the 2016 draft, Brogdon averaged 15.7 points on 44% shooting and 41% three-point shooting in 28.7 minutes in 39 games for the Trail Blazers.

News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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