The Wizards have found their starting point guard in Monte Morris, as they agreed to a trade Wednesday on the eve of free agency to acquire the 27-year-old veteran from the Nuggets along with Will Barton in a deal that sent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to Denver.
The trade, which was first reported by The Athletic, has been confirmed by NBC Sports Washington. Morris and Barton should help the Wizards with their two-biggest needs in defense and 3-point shooting. Both players also have a history with Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who was an assistant in Denver before taking the job in Washington.
Morris should step right in as the starter at point guard next to Bradley Beal in the Wizards’ backcourt. He is a career 39.4% shooter from 3-point range and last year averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 assists while starting in 74 of the 75 games he played for the Nuggets. Morris is due to make about $18.7 million over the next two years, so he comes in at a cheaper price on the salary cap than many of the best options in free agency.
Barton, 31, has long been known as a consistent two-way wing. He plays tough defense and is a capable secondary scorer. Last season, he averaged 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists for the Nuggets while shooting 36.5% from three. He has shot 37.2% from deep over the last three seasons.
Barton comes to Washington on an expiring deal worth $14.3 million for the 2022-23 season. He should fill a similar role to Caldwell-Pope, perhaps even taking his place as the Wizards’ starting three.
By landing Morris, the Wizards have filled their biggest positional need this offseason. They now have to fill out the rest of their point guard depth chart, as there are two openings behind him. They may also be in the market for a third center if Thomas Bryant leaves to sign with another team.