The Washington Wizards have some decisions to make on how to upgrade the talent level to contend next season. First, they have both Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat, whose contracts expire this summer, hitting the free agent market. Obviously, the Wizards would like to keep both, but they’d have to give up the majority of their cap space in order to do so. Between Ariza and Gortat, keeping Gortat should be the Wizards’ number one priority this summer.
Unlike Trevor Ariza, the Washington Wizards don’t have replacements on the roster for Marcin Gortat. Martell Webster has shown that he’s capable of starting at the small forward position, and with Otto Porter expected to play a bigger role next year than he did this season, the Wizards could be stacked at that position. Nene has publicly expressed his disinterest in playing the center position, noting that he’d much rather play at the power forward spot when paired with the Polish Hammer. Gortat is the one player this summer that the Wizards can’t afford to lose. He brings physical toughness at the center position, is very skilled and can shoot with either hand on the low block, and has also shown the ability to knock down the open 15 foot jumper. His contributions didn’t stop on the offensive side of the floor either, as he helped anchor a top-10 defense all season long. Prior to acquiring Marcin Gortat, there were lots of questions about how the Wizards would fill the defensive void with Emeka Okafor gone, but Gortat quickly answered those questions by providing solid rim protection.
Also, keeping Gortat will give the Wizards the continuity that’s needed to contend. Not many teams in the NBA have a physical and skilled center such as Gortat, since the center position is nowhere near what it was 10-15 years ago. Gortat gives the Wizards versatility and gives the team mismatches that they can exploit.
In the 2013-14 season, Gortat averaged 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game in 81 games played, which considering how the center position as whole has diminished, those numbers are solid. Gortat has already stated that he would like to return to Washington, as long as they’re committed to continue building on a winning season and the players develop.
I love the team here,” said Gortat, who plans to skip competition with the Polish national team this summer to focus on free agency and rest. “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.
So for the Wizards to start building on a great 2013-14 season, keeping Gortat is priority number one this summer. If he walks to another team in free agency, it will be a tough challenge replacing him, as the Wizards look to make a deeper playoff run next season.