Return of the Marc: Gortat Back with Wizards for 5-Years, $60 Million (News Courtesy of John Wall)
It started with a tweet from Marcin Gortat himself, a triple smile at 7:07 pm.
Something had to be up. John Wall knew it, and he officially broke the news himself at 7:08 pm.
Then, of course, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski came with the contract figures at 7:11 pm: $60 million over five seasons (fully guaranteed).
This is a good thing, Wizards fans, despite any trepidation over cost or length.
For one, John Wall is obviously happy. It’s important to supply Wall with a center for pick-and-roll action (and that wasn’t Nene).
Gortat was the best free agent center on the market, and secondary and tertiary options would drastically pale in comparison to his pick-and-roll (or sometimes pop) ability.
But $60 million over five years to a guy who turned 30 this past February? That’s a lot of Polish złotych. The Wizards have just drained flexibility; they are a fat man doing yoga.
Certainly a valid point. But would you rather the Wizards opt for flexibility instead of mere ability? Gortat, if you’ll recall, made the Wizards a playoff team. Now let’s see what he can do in his prime as he continues to develop chemistry with improving core players like Wall and Bradley Beal,
along with the rest of his Wizards teammates.
It must be reminded: the market set this price for Gortat. The Wizards weren’t just tossing money at him for the sake of tossing money or keeping the Miami Heat (primary suitors after Washington) off the chase. The Minnesota Timberwolves set the market price when they gave Nikola
Pekovic, barely two years younger than Gortat, a five-year, $60 million contract extension last summer.
Anything less would have been a blow to Gortat’s ego and his desire to be in Washington. Disregard this as a fan if you must, but the Wizards simply could not. NBA free agency is not as cut-and-dry as rational dollar amounts. It is a very irrational process that heavily involves mitigating risk and making millionaire basketball players several layers from reality feel special. Armchair GMs will always have a hard time understanding this.
Also worth considering: Gortat is a young 30. He is only 10 and a half months older than LeBron James, yet Gortat has only played 31.8 percent of LeBron’s NBA regular season minutes (more than 22,000 less). No, this does not include Gortat’s 139 D-League minutes or the minutes he collected overseas prior to entering the NBA. This also does not include LeBron’s 6,717 career playoff minutes (compared to Gortat’s 913).
Oh, but the Wizards just did this to avoid the embarrassment of losing a first round pick (18th overall, which, yes, would’ve been better had the Wizards not traded for Gortat).
Um, maybe, but also: no. A resounding no.
Yes, trading a first rounder and a guy who missed the entire season (Emeka Okafor) for Gortat was a risk. But it was an important risk. It was time for the Wizards to stop patiently straining and get off the pot. It was time to get John Wall and Bradley Beal important playoff experience. Important consideration for young, budding stars: get them to playoffs, let them lose in playoffs, let them internalize losing in the playoffs, let them get hungrier for winning in the playoffs.
The Wizards, with Nene being who he is (injury prone and pouty about playing center) would not have been in the market for a top free agent this summer, anyway. (Glad that they aren’t discussing how much to pay Okafor? Me too.) Now,
what became the 18th pick brought them one year of Gortat, vital playoff experience, and the inside track to signing the top center free agent in the summer of 2014. Ernie Grunfeld has delivered. He is capable of doing it sometimes, you know.
Now hopefully the Wizards have structured Gortat’s deal in a manner that will give them maximum flexibility going forward (as much flexibility that a five-year, $60 million contact can afford). For instance, as discussed in a previous TAI post, the Wizards can pay Gortat $10.5 million for 2014-15 and give him the max 7.5 percent raise each year, which would bring the grand total to just under $61 million. The latest word is that the structure of Gortat’s deal is undetermined, as the Wizards are trying to get Trevor Ariza off the board before getting creative.
Remember the day when Wizards (and Bullets) fans were concerned with losing their own free agents, much less being able to sign a new free agent? Well, now the franchise you’ve grown accustomed to managed to circumvent the free agent process (of signing away someone from another team) while inking one of the best, most
sought-after free agents available outside of Miami’s untouchables and Carmelo Anthony.
Now, it’s incumbent on Gortat to stay healthy (he takes care of his body, but a lot can happen to a human specimen between ages 30 and 35, as I am now discovering), and to keep being the prideful player and locker room leader that the Wizards came to know this past season. (Remember when Gortat put Nene in his place and told him to suck up the nagging ailments and play? That’s value-added.)
The Wizards’ primary goal for the summer can be checked off the list.
There’s still a ton of work to do before the distance of the next regular season comes calling, but it’s not a bad start.