Wizards waive Will Barton, convert Jordan Goodwin to standard contract

Wizards waive Will Barton, convert Jordan Goodwin to standard contract

While many are spending the NBA All-Star break getting much-needed rest, the Washington Wizards are doing a little bit of housekeeping. 

First, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wizards and wing Will Barton have agreed to a contract buyout, making Barton a free agent — assuming he clears waivers. 

As noted by Wojnarowski, it was important for the two sides to agree to something before March 1. Players must be waived — or bought out — of their deals by that date to remain eligible for playoff basketball this season. Since he was waived before that deadline, Barton can be signed at any point up until the postseason begins and still be able to play.

It's been a quiet season for Barton in Washington. He averaged just 19.6 minutes per game for the Wizards, his lowest workload since his third season in the league. In those minutes, he averaged 7.7 points on 50.5% True Shooting, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists (1.1 turnovers) per contest. Barton drained a healthy 38.4% of his threes, but posted career-low efficiency inside the arc (39.5% on twos).

To say that Barton has underwhelmed defensively would be selling it short. By virtually any measure, the Wizards suffered leaks while he was on the floor. Per Second Spectrum, possessions featuring Barton defending a ball-screen, isolation, off-screen action or drive all produced at least 1.1 points per possession (PPP). Barton's Defensive Estimated Plus-Minus (DEPM) this season is minus-6.5; it's easily the worst mark of his career, and a number that ranks in the first percentile. 

Barton has had stretches of solid play on that end during his career; even if looking at DEPM, Barton was roughly a neutral defender across his last three seasons in Denver (plus-0.7, minus-0.9, minus-0.4). For a playoff hopeful looking to add him, it'll have to bank on a bit of rejuvenation that a winning situation can provide. 

If the defense holds enough — or if the infrastructure around him is strong — Barton can still add value as a secondary creator. Barton has made roughly 37% of his threes over the past seven seasons on solid volume (4.8 attempts, 5.8 per 36 minutes), including a 39.0% clip on catch-and-shoot threes. His 33.7% clip on pull-up or stepback threes is slightly above league-average (33.3%) during that timeframe, per Second Spectrum.

For teams looking for a shot in the arm in terms of creation, Barton could provide that. The Milwaukee Bucks, for example, are a team that:

1) Is in contention

2) Has a strong defensive infrastructure

3) Has roster space available if they want to give it a shot.

Not long after we got word of Barton's buyout with the Wizards, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the Wizards would be converting guard Jordan Goodwin's two-way deal into a standard contract.

It's a smart bit of business from the Wizards, and well-deserved for Goodwin. 

His numbers don't jump off the page: 6.3 points on 54.2% TS, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists (0.9 turnovers) and 1.0 steals per game.

But Goodwin has been a breath of fresh air in the guard room this season. He's been a patient ball-screen navigator, either chewing up space to get inside or quickly swinging the ball to the next option when he doesn't have anything. There's probably room for a little more exploration on his end; he sometimes finds himself pulling up a dribble early to look for kick-outs. 

Goodwin has knocked down nearly 39% of his threes this year, though that's come on low volume (1.7 attempts). Being able to solidify himself as a reliable shooter likely cements him as a no-doubt-about-it rotation piece in the NBA.

Goodwin's calling card for now, however, is his on-ball defense. His combination of size, strength and on-ball tenacity — watching him get in a guy's jersey right before the screener comes up is a subtle joy in his minutes — makes him an irritating player to deal with at the point of attack. 

His workload (40 games, 18.1 minutes) and the Wizards' place in the standings (No. 9, 4.0 games out of 6th) will work against him when award talk really ramps up. On a per-minute basis, he's proven worthy of making an "honorable mentions" list due to his work. 

For one (1) reference point: Goodwin's DEPM (plus-1.6) puts him on par with Derrick White and Marcus Smart, and slightly ahead of guys like De'Anthony Melton (plus-1.4), Jrue Holiday (plus-1.2), Jose Alvarado (plus-0.9) and Fred VanVleet (plus-0.7). 

I'm excited to see more from Goodwin in the second half* of the year.

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