The Trail Blazers have interest in Suns center Marcin Gortat, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, amidst a report on Phoenix's draft prospects. It's not clear from Coro's piece how recent or how intense Portland's interest in the 29-year-old center is, but Coro speculates that the Suns could be more willing to part with Gortat if they take a big man with the fifth overall pick in Thursday's draft.
Gortat was a trade candidate for much of the past season, and the Suns were reportedly discussing a proposal involving him as part of a package for Josh Smith at the deadline. He stopped short of asking for a trade during 2012/13, but he vented his frustration about the Suns rebuilding process to a reporter in his native Poland. Gortat is set to make $7,727,280 in the final season of his contract this year after turning down an extension last summer.
When I examined Gortat's trade candidacy before the deadline, I figured that if the Suns didn't trade him this past season, they'd revisit the possibility in 2013/14, given his poor fit in the team's rebuilding. The six-year veteran saw many of his numbers decline this year from career highs in 2011/12.
The Blazers could make sense as a destination, since J.J. Hickson, the incumbent starter at center in Portland, is hitting free agency. Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors, in looking at the Blazers offseason, speculated that the team would go after a veteran center to pair with Meyers Leonard, their first-round pick from 2012. Phoenix is open to acquiring another first-round pick in this year's draft, and the Blazers are reportedly interested in trading this year's first-rounder, No. 10 overall. Coro believes the Suns could draft a center to replace Gortat with that pick if they acquire it in a deal for Gortat.
The Suns are taking a best-player-available approach to the No. 5 pick, Coro writes, but the Suns won't take another player at the same position with pick No. 30, he adds. Regardless, new GM Ryan McDonough and company expect to be able to find a player capable of joining their rotation with the final pick of the first round.