Marcin Gortat

John Wall, Marcin Gortat Met Privately To Clear Air

Wizards teammates John Wall and Marcin Gortat had a private in-person meeting last week to discuss where they stood with one another and clear the air, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN. The meeting came on the heels of apparent public friction between the two players.

The meeting, which was requested by both players, didn’t last long, according to Haynes. Sources tell ESPN that while Wall and Gortat aired their grievances, there’s still more work to be done before their relationship is fully repaired.

The tension between Wall and Gortat seemingly began shortly after the point guard went down with a knee injury. Following a win in which the Wizards racked up 30 assists without Wall, Marcin Gortat tweeted that it was a great “team” victory, a comment perceived by many as a passive-aggressive slight at his teammate.

According to Haynes, Wall reached out to Gortat soon after the big man published his tweet to essentially tell him that if he has a problem with Wall, he should direct it to him rather than cryptically addressing it on social media. Although Gortat insisted that he meant no offense by his comment, Wall also responded publicly during an appearance on ESPN’s Sportscenter.

“I know I’m a team player. I average almost 10 assists a game,” Wall said at the time. “I’m very prideful in finding my teammates and getting guys easy shots. Even more just shocking hearing it from [Gortat] and understand he gets the most assists from me and gets the most spoon-fed baskets ever.”

Gortat was involved in some trade rumors prior to the deadline, but ultimately stayed put, so he and Wall will have to be on the same page if the Wizards hope to make another run in the postseason this spring. According to Haynes, sources close to the Wizards suggest that this sort of altercation is natural due to the rigors of an emotional season, so it sounds like they’re not overly concerned about it. Still, the franchise may look into introducing a policy that would allow the club to fine a player for any social media posts deemed detrimental to the team, Haynes notes.

Wizards Notes: Wall, Gortat, Beal, Satoransky

While it has been overshadowed by the drama in Cleveland, there has seemed to be some uneasiness in Washington this season. After a team meeting earlier in the year, multiple Wizards players admitted that the meeting might have had a negative impact on the locker room, which is something we almost never hear.

Now, with John Wall sidelined for several weeks as he recovers from knee surgery, the star point guard appears to have felt slighted by the notion that his team might be moving the ball better without him in the lineup. Last week after a win in which the Wizards racked up 30 assists, Marcin Gortat tweeted that it was a great “team” victory. Wall addressed that comment during an appearance this week on SportsCenter, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post details.

“I know I’m a team player. I average almost 10 assists a game,” Wall said. “I’m very prideful in finding my teammates and getting guys easy shots. Even more just shocking hearing it from him and understand he gets the most assists from me and gets the most spoon-fed baskets ever.”

As we attempt to determine how real the apparent tension in the Wizards’ locker room is, here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Responding to Wall’s appearances on SportsCenter and NBC Sports Washington – during which Wall said that “any guys [who] have a problem with me can talk to me face-to-face as a man” – Gortat insisted that neither his comment nor one made by Bradley Beal last week were intended to attack or frustrate the All-Star point guard. “I talked to him a few days ago,” Gortat said, per Buckner. “I thought we verified that. I told him that it was nothing personal and I definitely didn’t think about him when I was writing that or whatever I was saying. We never thought about attacking him and I thought we had this verified.”
  • Beal offered another defense of his his “everybody eats” comment from last week too, as Buckner details. “I keep telling everybody it’s not a shot at John,” Beal said. “I’m sure Gortat didn’t mean anything by his [tweet]. We understand — nobody is sitting here saying we’re a better team without John. That’s just nonsense. I’ll say it a thousand times if I have to. I’ll go on every media outlet if I have to to get that point across: we’re not a better team without John. I want to nip that in the bud ASAP. He’s a tremendous player. He’s our leader. We need him back but we want him to be 110% before that happens.”
  • Despite the Wizards’ impressive ball-movement numbers over the last few games, the idea that the team might be better without Wall is ridiculous, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
  • Tomas Satoransky‘s play in Wall’s absence may have an impact on the Wizards’ trade deadline plans, says Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Hughes’ piece was published when Satoransky was averaging 11.0 PPG and 5.8 APG in place of Wall — in the two games since, those averages have dipped to a more pedestrian 5.5 PPG and 4.5 APG.
  • On Tuesday, we learned that the Wizards have engaged in some trade talks involving Gortat. That story is right here.

Wizards Engaged In Marcin Gortat Trade Talks

The Wizards have explored the possibility of moving their starting center, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who hears from multiple sources that the club has engaged in trade discussions involving Marcin Gortat.

Windhorst reports that several teams have shown interest in Gortat, adding that the Wizards are looking to improve their roster in the short term without taking on additional money in the long term.

Gortat, who will turn 34 later this month, has seen his role reduced a little this season, averaging 26.3 minutes per contest, his lowest mark since joining the Wizards in 2013. However, he has remained productive, recording 8.9 PPG and 8.0 RPG with a .537 FG% in 53 games (all starts) so far in 2017/18. The big man’s contract pays him about $12.78MM this season and $13.57MM in 2018/19 before expiring in the summer of ’19.

While Windhorst doesn’t specify any trade targets for the Wizards, his ESPN colleague Zach Lowe reported this week that Washington is one club that has looked into the possibility of acquiring DeAndre Jordan. A trade for the Clippers center is probably a long shot, but Gortat would be one logical outgoing piece in such a deal, given his position and his salary.

Wizards Rumors: Oubre, Gortat, Mahinmi

The Wizards haven’t been involved in many trade rumors so far this year, but they’re still a team worth monitoring closely in the coming weeks. Washington completes a trade-deadline deal virtually every season — in 2017, the club added Bojan Bogdanovic, and two years ago it was Markieff Morris arriving in D.C. at the deadline.

In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks took a closer look at some trade options for the Wizards, so let’s dive in and round up a few of the highlights from the former Nets executive…

  • Kelly Oubre Jr. is a key part of the Wizards’ rotation, so the team may not be willing to move him, but he’d draw real interest from other clubs if Washington makes him available. “Oubre Jr. and Marcin Gortat are two players that consistently come up when we have personnel meetings,” one league executive told Marks.
  • Ian Mahinmi‘s contract is currently viewed as “not tradable,” according to Marks. Mahinmi, who isn’t playing much for the Wizards, will still have two years and $31MM+ left on his deal after this season.
  • The Wizards have made a habit of trading first-round picks in recent years, but they’d be wise to avoid doing so this year, writes Marks. A league source who spoke to ESPN agrees: “Washington can ill afford to move a first-round pick this year, even if it upgraded their roster for the short term.”
  • Another NBA executive weighed in with a take on how the Wizards should handle their future first-round picks and add complementary players around stars like John Wall and Bradley Beal: “What Washington needs to is take a look at how the Raptors built out their team. Yes, Wall and Beal are homegrown talent, but the Wizards do not have a stockpile of young players that have developed into a key part of the rotation and could start on any given night.”
  • Marks identifies Tyreke Evans as a trade candidate who should receive interest from the Wizards, but suggests that the team probably shouldn’t offer more than Tim Frazier, second-round picks, and cash.

Southeast Notes: Clifford, Gortat, Waiters, Hammond

Hornets coach Steve Clifford plans to put a greater emphasis on his personal health when he returns to work Tuesday, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The fifth-year coach had a health scare in November that forced him to step away from the team while doctors determined the source of the problem.

“The biggest thing for me is a lack of sleep. Stress-related,” Clifford said. “[The doctors’] biggest concern with me is [most executives] don’t travel as much as I do. That’s why they have been a little more careful — and rightfully so — about me coming back.”

Assistant Stephen Silas has been running the team in Clifford’s absence and will coach tomorrow’s game in Detroit before Clifford takes over at Tuesday’s practice.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards center Marcin Gortat said his quote about wanting to finish his career in Orlando was misinterpreted, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Gortat mentioned that he would like to return to the Magic so he could end his NBA journey where it started, but emphasized that he has no desire to be traded. “I want to play in Washington,” he said. “Just because I want to finish my career in a year-and-a-half doesn’t mean I don’t want to play in Washington. I think everything today was blown away a little too much.”
  • The Heat weren’t concerned about the $1.1MM bonus that Dion Waiters might have collected if he had remained healthy, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters needed to play 70 games to receive the incentive, which won’t happen now that he is expected to have season-ending surgery on his left ankle. Miami put the bonus in his contract as a way to allow him to obtain his desired salary while leaving enough cap space to re-sign Wayne Ellington, Winderman explains, adding that the extra $1.1MM wouldn’t have pushed the team into the luxury tax.
  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd is confident that new GM John Hammond will eventually have success in Orlando, according to John Denton of NBA.com. Hammond constructed the current team in Milwaukee and hired Kidd before leaving for Orlando last summer. “Hammond is one of the best at putting teams together to win,’’ Kidd said. “You talk about a great individual at understanding college talent at a very high level, he’s a competitor and he wants to win and I enjoyed him when he was here [in Milwaukee].’’

Marcin Gortat Wants To Finish Career With Magic

Although he has been a member of the Wizards since 2013, Marcin Gortat‘s NBA career began with another Southeast team, as he played for the Magic from 2007 to 2011. Speaking to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, Gortat expressed a desire to eventually finish his playing career where it started.

“I would love to join the team for maybe two or three months, or maybe half a season at least,” Gortat said of the Magic. “I’m going to be an old guy, so I don’t know if Orlando would be interested or not. But I would love to join the team back again just to wear the uniform, put the white and blue stripes again on me and be able to say I’m a Magic again and just come back home where I belong. That would definitely be a dream come true to do that for me. Whatever the team wants to do — play me, just be in the rotation or just be a bench player — I would definitely be there for the team.”

It’s not uncommon for a veteran player to express a desire to return to a former team at the end of his career — players often sign one-day contracts to retire with a specific club. Still, Gortat’s comments indicate he wants to actually play for Orlando again before he retires, and he went on to suggest the end of his career could arrive sooner rather than later.

“The way NBA politics goes right now, I’m afraid that next year might be my last year,” Gortat said. “This is how I feel right now. Obviously, we’re going to have a summer, then another year of basketball and then I’m going to think about it. But the way I feel right now, it’s like next year might be my last year of my career.

“I’m not saying 100 percent,” Gortat continued. “I would say probably. The way everything goes, the way the NBA goes right now and everything that’s going on, I just don’t feel like I’m going to stay in this league for much longer.”

Gortat’s contract with the Wizards runs through 2018/19, so if the veteran center wants to suit up for the Magic for a few months and doesn’t expect to play beyond his current deal, he’d have to count on a trade or a buyout to get him to Orlando. While that’s a possibility, Gortat may have to stick around beyond next season if he really wants to play for the Magic again.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wade, Gortat, Magic

The Hornets turned over their backup point guards behind Kemba Walker this offseason, with Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone replacing Ramon Sessions, Brian Roberts, and Briante Weber. Unfortunately for Charlotte, the injury bug is plaguing the team’s new-look backcourt as training camp gets underway.

As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer details, Carter-Williams, who is recovering from platelet-rich plasma procedures on his knees, has yet to be cleared for contact drills, and Hornets head coach Steve Clifford isn’t sure when that will happen. Stone is also dealing with an injury, though his nagging groin issue isn’t expected to be a major problem.

If the Hornets do need additional point guard depth this preseason, it will be interesting to see if rookie Malik Monk gets some reps at the position. The team wanted to experiment in Summer League with Monk playing point guard, but he was battling an ankle injury of his own at the time.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Although Dwyane Wade hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to the Heat within the next few years, his desire to join a championship contender trumps his desire to reunite with his old team at this point in his career, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
  • The low-post role in the NBA has evolved considerably in recent years, with teams prioritizing bigs who can shoot, but Wizards center Marcin Gortat isn’t too worried about the league’s shifting philosophy. “I’ve got two, three more years in me, [and] I’m gone.” Gortat said with a smile, per Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “I’m glad I’m at the end of my career right now. I’m not going to shoot threes; I’m not going to develop threes. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to try to bring back real centers. I’m just going to try to survive. I’m going to play my best. I’m going to try to spend all my six fouls as best as I can, get as many rebounds as I can, get some blocks, get some charges. Hopefully we’re going to win some games, then I’m gone.”
  • The Magic announced their training camp roster on Monday, and one name notably absent was Rodney Purvis‘. A report last month indicated that the former UConn shooting guard had agreed to a deal with Orlando. The Magic are currently carrying 19 players on their roster, leaving one open spot, but it’s not clear whether that reported agreement with Purvis will be finalized.

Southeast Notes: Incentives, Gortat, Kidd-Gilchrist

The Heat found a creative way to pad the contracts of their offseason signees, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes, by loading the deals with impressive bonuses and incentives. Dion Waiters, for example, can net over $1M in addition to his traditional $11M deal by simply appearing in 70 or more games this season.

While Waiters only appeared in 46 contests last year, thereby making this an “unlikely” incentive, he played in 70-plus in each of the four seasons prior to 2016/17. Other sorts of bonuses offered include one that would reward Kelly Olynyk should the Heat make the playoffs and another that would sweeten James Johnson‘s deal provided he meets certain body-fat measurement requirements.

Such contractual maneuvers aren’t new for the franchise, Winderman writes, noting that the Heat employed similar tactics, tying routine weigh-ins to retired point guard Tim Hardaway‘s deals.

Incentives are officially classified as “unlikely” if the condition was not met in the previous season. Unlikely incentives do not count toward a team’s salary cap at the time of the signing but they do at the end of the season if the conditions are met. This allowed the Heat flexibility to successfully juggle their returning free agents.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards decided this offseason to stick with their plan of gradually developing their young core, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. While they may have been able to skip the line in the East by going out and acquiring an additional star, the Wizards’ patience could pay off in the long run.
  • A healthy Ian Mahinmi will eat into Marcin Gortat‘s role with the Wizards, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. At the end of last season, Gortat expressed doubt about his future in Washington, though he said last month that he’s fully committed to the franchise.
  • Without being asked, head coach Steve Clifford has reiterated that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will start at small forward for the Hornets, Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer writes. Concern over the 23-year-old’s offense has some wondering if he may be better suited for a reserve role.

Southeast Notes: Gortat, White, Stone, Speights

Marcin Gortat, who expressed doubt about his future with the Wizards during his exit interview in May, now says he’s fully committed to the team, relays Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic. Gortat, who usually spends summers in Poland, joined the team for its informal summer mini-camp this year. Now in his fifth season with the team, Gortat is signed through the 2018/19 season.

“First of all, I knew it right away that I would be coming back,” Gortat said this week on the Wizards TipOff Podcast. “I still have a contract and at the end of the day, I’m a Wizards player. I still have two fully guaranteed years. When I went for the exit interview, I was just preparing myself for the worst. You’ve gotta be ready in this business. You’ve gotta be ready that one day you might get a phone call saying that ‘Hey, I appreciate everything that you did, but we’re going to go in a different direction and trade you.’ I’ve been traded twice in my life. I know how it is. So, at the exit interview I just said I was going to talk to my agent and whatever is going to happen. That doesn’t mean I wanted to be traded.”

There’s more tonight from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat will have to keep Okaro White on their 15-man roster if they want to retain his rights, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The power forward appeared in 35 games for the Heat last season, but spent much of the season with the team’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls. White was claimed Wednesday in the G League expansion draft by the Memphis Hustle, the new affiliate of the Grizzlies. Because White has a guarantee of more than $50K, he cannot be deemed an affiliate player if he gets cut by Miami. He would have to either report to the Hustle or play overseas.
  • New Hornets guard Julyan Stone has an agreement not to discuss the details of his release from his Italian team, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Umana Reyer in Venice agreed to let Stone out of his contract so he could return to the United States to be closer to his ailing father.
  • Joining the Magic fulfills a long-time dream for Florida native Marreese Speights, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The nine-year veteran has been far from home recently, spending the past four seasons with the Warriors and Clippers. He is excited about the opportunity after signing a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with Orlando last month. “The arena is an hour and 20 minutes from my house in St. Pete,” Speights said. “I grew up watching them; I became a big fan of them as a kid and that’s when I fell in love with the game. I’ve always wanted to play for the Magic. This is a dream come true.”

Wizards Notes: Frazier, Burke, Gortat, Tax

Finding a reliable backup for point guard John Wall and fortifying their bench are two of the Wizards’ top priorities heading into the offseason, and on Wednesday, the team made a move that may have checked both boxes. Washington sent the No. 52 overall pick to New Orleans in exchange for guard Tim Frazier, who saw plenty of action at the point for the Pelicans this season and will earn a modest $2MM salary in 2017/18.

While there’s no guarantee Frazier will be the answer as Wall’s backup, he’s a solid rotation player and the Wizards didn’t have to give up much to get him. According to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post, Frazier has been on the Wizards’ radar for some time, and the club also tried to acquire him at February’s trade deadline.

Here’s more out of Washington:

  • Trey Burke, who handled point guard duties for part of the 2016/17 season, is eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but the Wizards won’t tender Burke a qualifying offer, per J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com. With no QO in hand, Burke will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
  • At season’s end, Marcin Gortat questioned his role in Washington and suggested he may seek a trade, but Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld sounds like he expects to retain the veteran center, according to Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic.com. “I’ve talked to March,” Grunfeld said. “March is with us. March, we’ve had him for four years. He’s averaged a double-double for four years. He’s been in the second round for three out of those four years and is a big part of what we’re doing. Everybody has frustration after a tough loss and a tough series. March is with us and he’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing.”
  • Grunfeld also acknowledged that the Wizards should be willing to go into the luxury tax territory this offseason, if necessary, Hughes writes in a separate CSNMidAtlantic.com story. “We’ll see how everything goes. If it’s the right player, I don’t think we have a problem going over,” Grunfeld said.
  • According to TNT’s David Aldridge and Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (Twitter links), the Wizards are open to buying their way back into the second round of Thursday’s draft if the opportunity arises. Currently, the team has no picks.