Updates from Tuesday, July 1
Marcin Gortat has agreed to a five year, $60 million contract extension with Washington, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2014
John Wall Tweeted about the move:
TNT's David Aldridge provides details on the contract:
There are no options or early terminations in the Gortat deal, per source. Big keep for Washington, which fought off several suitors.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 2, 2014
Diana Marie Russini of NBCWashington.com previously reported the Wizards' offer to Gortat:
Told Gortat is looking for fully guaranteed money. Sources say deal is getting close between the center and The Wizards. #NBAFreeAgency— Dianna Marie Russini (@NBCdianna) July 1, 2014
NBA free agency doesn't officially begin until July 1, but that hasn't curbed the buzz behind some of the open market's hottest commodities. One of the underrated players set to explore his options is veteran center Marcin Gortat.
Based on how well Gortat meshed in the nation's capital in 2013-14, though, the sources cited in the report believe the Mavs will be hard-pressed to pull Gortat away from Washington:
Sources, however, say the Mavericks fear they'll be priced out of the hunt to pry Gortat from the Wizards, who have ample space under the salary cap and are interested in keeping the 29-year-old [sic] Gortat as part of a young core of the team that broke the franchise's five-year postseason drought and advanced to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Gortat himself acknowledged the benefits of returning to the Wizards, per Brandon Parker of The Washington Post:
Coming here to Washington, I had a lot of fear. I didn’t know how it was going to be. I was afraid of the city, I was afraid of the team. There was a lot of rumors about John (Wall) and what kind of player he is. And I’m not going to lie, wins help you to find yourself in your environment. I think that’s what happened with me. It took me time to find sweet spots in the city. Now I can say I like this city. ...
... I love the team here. We can have something special here for the next three, four, five years. We have a lot of talent on this team, a lot of young guys who can develop and become a superstar in this league.
Indeed, Washington boasts arguably the most promising young backcourt in the NBA between point guard John Wall and emerging star Bradley Beal. They are just 23 and 21 years old, respectively, so they stand to grow into far better players. That's a scary thought for the rest of the league, especially since the Wizards play in a weak Eastern Conference and should be able to build on this last winning season.
The frontcourt chemistry Gortat has developed with Nene is another reason to justify staying put. Although swingman Trevor Ariza is set to enter free agency as well, general manager Ernie Grunfeld invested in another option at the 3 in Otto Porter Jr., the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, so there's some insurance there if Ariza decides to walk.
By re-signing with Washington early, Gortat would bolster incentive for the D.C. band to stick together. Then the Wizards could focus on acquiring a little more help to improve the roster in an effort to make an even deeper playoff run.
BasketballInsiders.com's Tommy Beer brought up an interesting instance that would likely entice Gortat to leave town:
What about Miami using that potential cap savings to sign both Kyle Lowry & Marcin Gortat instead of just Melo? Better balance/depth?— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) June 12, 2014
Where should Marcin Gortat go in free agency?
The next destination that the 30-year-old Gortat chooses may be his last in terms of netting a lucrative payday. If he does decide to ditch the Wizards, he must ensure that there's a foundation for a winner in place wherever he goes.
The Mavericks are stocked with veteran players, and they did push the San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the opening round of this year's postseason. However, that could have been their last great stand. Gortat should explore alternative options before seriously considering Dallas as a new home.
After putting up 13 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in the playoffs, Gortat will command a gaudy salary regardless of where he takes the next phase of his career. Quality centers are hard to come by, which can only enhance his value.
If Washington can further sell Gortat on its bright future, the Wizards may get him at a relative bargain, but Gortat should be pleased to be in a spot to succeed and compete for titles.