1:40pm: Stein’s full story suggests the Wizards have made an extension offer to Gortat, though the terms of any such offer are unclear.
12:31pm: The Wizards will make it a priority to re-sign Marcin Gortat this summer if they can’t sign sign him to an extension before his contract runs out at the end of June, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Washington’s brass is “thrilled” with the client of Guy Zucker, according to Stein. The news comes on the heels of a Monday report that the Wizards are interested in fellow big man Greg Monroe and would like to trade for him before the deadline or sign him as a restricted free agent this summer.
Gortat, who’ll turn 30 next month, is averaging 12.0 points and 8.8 rebounds with a 16.0 PER for the Wizards this year after coming over a few days before the season began via trade from the Suns. He’s capably filled the hole created when Emeka Okafor, who went to Phoenix in the same trade, suffered a preseason neck injury that’s kept him out of action ever since.
The Wizards have big man Nene on a contract that pays him $13MM a year through 2015/16, so the team would logically have room for only one of Gortat and Monroe along their front line. Monroe presents a younger option who’s putting up slightly superior numbers as a 23-year-old this season, and he has the hometown appeal of having played for Georgetown University. It’ll probably be difficult to obtain him, since the Pistons will have the right to match offers if they keep him until the summer, and the trade market for promising young big men is always full of competition.
Gortat would figure to come more easily, since he’s already in Washington and the Wizards have his Bird Rights. The seventh-year veteran can re-sign for as much as five years with the Wizards if he hits free agency, but could only add three years to his existing deal if he were to sign an extension, making it more financially sound for him to wait until July, Stein notes.
The Polish Hammer is finishing up a five-year deal that pays him more than $7.7MM this season, but he signed that contract when he was still a backup for the Magic, so I think he’s in line for a raise that would put his annual take at around $10MM. Gortat’s age would suggest he’d like the security of a long-term deal, but I’m not sure the Wizards would be willing to do a fifth year unless he and Zucker agree to a steep discount. Even a fourth year could be an ambitious proposition for the Wizards, though that could be mitigated if they can arrange for the fourth season to be partially guaranteed.
Gortat admits to Michael Lee of The Washington Post that it’s been an adjustment playing aside another big man in Nene and serving as a complimentary player on offense, neither of which he experienced while with the Suns. Still, he believes he’s much more content in Washington than he would have been if he were still in Phoenix.
“Playing in Phoenix was a totally different story,” he said. “I had more space under the basket. I knew that [I] was going to get the ball inside and I was the guy who was going to work. Here, it’s a different story. But I can say, I don’t mind doing that. As long as we’re winning, I don’t mind at all.”