Washington Wizards’ center Marcin Gortat voiced frustration with his role over the final weeks of the season during his final media interview Tuesday. The team has a lot of questions to answer this season, including what to do with the center position.
Just one day after the team’s final game of the season, it’s understandable that Marcin Gortat mentioned needing to reevaluate his current situation.
Here’s a snippet of what he told interviewers, chronicled in the Washington Post by Ava Wallace:
“But — I think it’s too early for me to say something. I’m just going to sit down in the summer and talk to my agent, talk to my people and I’m going to analyze if this is the right fit.”
Gortat was one day removed from a frustrating 6 point, 11 rebound effort where he ended the game with four turnovers. Many if not all were simply Gortat dropping passes, and he had few if any of his patented “tip-outs”.
In the regular season he averaged a 10.8 ppg and 10.4 rpg double-double, while playing all 82 games. He shot the ball at 57% FG.
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In the playoffs though, his offensive production dropped to 8.1 points per game on 50% field goal shooting. Watching the games, he looked less engaged, whether a fault of his own or coaching.
During the regular season Gortat led the league in screen assists, aka screens leading to baskets, during the regular season and playoffs. In the postseason, he was slightly above DeAndre Jordan, who seems to pick-and-roll with Chris Paul every play.
The duo of Gortat and John Wall had defenders literally falling trying to defend them.
Yet, the team seemed to move away from that strategy late in the playoffs. The more complex Boston Celtics defense was rewarded by Washington moving more toward iso basketball with Wall and Bradley Beal, especially on the road.
Gortat did make some good points in his interview. Namely that the center position is “evolving”.
Gortat’s viewpoint comes from one of business. This is a business after all.
“I know how this business works,” Gortat said. “I’m the oldest guy on the team, they signed Ian, also, he’s younger than me, he got a longer contract. I just know how the business works, so I’m prepared for everything, just in case.”
Gortat still has two years left on his deal, which will pay him an average of $13 million over the next two seasons. Mahinmi, however, has three years left on his deal, which will pay him an average of $16 Million.
The writing’s on the wall for the pair. With the Wizards’ tight salary cap situation, unloading one contract makes sense. What the Wizards could get for either is still tough to decipher, as well as the question of whether would a trade actually improve the team
The team will of course be looking at various ways to improve its bench, and trading a starter for pieces could be a possibility.
Still, Gortat, even at 33, has proved his durability and worth over the last few seasons. This year he played in all 102 games, including preseason, regular season, and postseason.
That workload may worry some, but it shows his dedication to his body and profession. This season was his seventh playing starting level minutes.
Whatever way the team decides to cover the logjam at center, Gortat’s ability to stay healthy can’t be taken for granted. I don’t anticipate it will, considering his backup Ian Mahinmi played a total of 36 regular and postseason games this season.
The “right fit” quote may have more to do with the contract and signing of Mahinmi than his usage in the postseason. Either way, Grunfeld and management will have many tough decisions on how to improve a team that had its most wins in 38 years, and minimal cap space. Should be and exciting offseason!