Contract Details: Five years, $60 million
Right away, the Marcin Gortat deal looks like a strong one.
He's important to his team—to the tune of 11.4 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com—and $12 million per season is a reasonable contract for a center who will turn 31 during the middle of the 2014-15 season. Gortat's rim-protecting skills help anchor the defense, and he's a consistent offensive player who can add a strong pick-and-roll element alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal.
However, the length of the deal—which contains an escalating salary, no less—is highly problematic.
In 2014-15, the contract will seem fine. In 2015-16, it may as well. But what about the seasons following that, when the big man is declining rapidly, forced into a lesser role by Father Time? What about the 2018-19 season, when he'll turn 35 and make $13,565,218, per Spotrac.com?
Centers don't tend to age well, particularly if they play a physical brand of basketball rather than a finesse game. Even if we look past the lack of financial flexibility Washington will have when players like Kevin Durant hit the market—don't forget about the inevitable Bradley Beal extension, one that will likely be a max deal—this is going to be an albatross down the road.
Mike Prada, writing for SBNation, had the following reaction after the deal was announced:
It is hoped that the deal is misreported, or at least not fully guaranteed. This is highly unlikely, of course, but perhaps the deal will be structured so that it declines in value. Something needs to mitigate this price tag. Good centers always cost big money and there is no denying that Gortat (13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 17.6 PER, .568 true shooting percentage) is that. He's one of my favorites. I love Gortat as a player, and he's an extremely good one. But he is going to be one for five years? Four years? Three years, even?
Unfortunately, it's not declining value. The opposite is true, which means it's even more of a mixed bag for the Wizards.
Sure, they're going to be better this season, perhaps even competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference after the strong signing of Paul Pierce, but they don't have a championship ceiling and will have trouble changing that down the road with this contract on the books.