Marcin Gortat

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.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Porter, Gortat, Waiters, Ball

During the Wizards‘ Game 7 loss to the Celtics, Washington’s bench was outscored 48 to 5. That glaring disparity was certainly not lost on John Wall, writes Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. In fact, Wall’s last words before leaving the court Monday night were, “Forty-eight to five,” which he then repeated before departing with, “Our bench had five points.”

Here’s more out of the Southeast:

  • Despite the immense disappointment Wizards players are feeling after their Game 7 defeat, players expressed confidence that the team can continue to compete at a high level if it can keep its best players together. Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this offseason, is considered by teammates Wall, Bradley Beal, and Markieff Morris to be a vital part of the team’s core, reports Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Morris tells Buckner that Porter is worth a max contract and he hopes that he gets it.
  • As reported earlier today, Marcin Gortat feels underappreciated by the Wizards and may request a trade.  More details and quotes on Gortat’s feelings can be found via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Impeding Heat free agent Dion Waiters said that the Heat do not need Lonzo Ball because they are covered at the point guard position with Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and “other [players],”  reports Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters also offered advice for Ball: “He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to play his game. He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to make mistakes. Because I think in this game today, he’s got to be able to make mistakes and have a coach who allows you to make mistakes, and you can learn from it.”
  • Luke Babbitt‘s future with the Heat is written about by Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman concludes that, while Babbitt likely will not be an offseason priority for the Heat, the team will consider him because of his Bird Rights and skill set.

Marcin Gortat May Seek Trade From Wizards

Wizards center Marcin Gortat plans to talk to his agent this summer to determine “if this is the right fit,” tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

Gortat claims he “did more sacrificing” than anyone and was underappreciated in his role with the team (Twitter link). He is also angry that Washington signed backup Ian Mahinmi to a longer contract than his last summer, saying, “I know how this business works.” (Twitter link)

Gortat still has two seasons and more than $26MM left on his current deal with the Wizards. This isn’t the first time he has been unhappy with his situation in Washington, as he frequently clashed with former coach Randy Wittman.

Southeast Notes: Battier, Beal, Ibaka, Ross, Mahinmi

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wondered if Shane Battier, recently hired as the Heat‘s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, will eventually assume leadership of the franchise from Pat Riley. For the interim, Winderman writes, Battier’s position will be the “first step” toward a post-Riley front office. Battier will work alongside Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison, executives with an advanced “business-of-basketball” acumen. While there is no reason to believe Riley is ready to step away from the game, Winderman could see Riley moving into a role similar to Jerry West’s with the Lakers; an executive board member who isn’t accountable for mundane, day-to-day front office operations.

More from around the Southeast…

  • Jared Dudley of the Suns stuck up for his former teammate, claiming Bradley Beal was snubbed of an All-Star roster spot. “The @NBA tells us players that winning matters! Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA! Bradley Beal is healthy and balling!”, Dudley tweeted on Thursday. (Twitter link) Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic argued that Carmelo Anthony received the All-Star nod due to his ability to attract media attention. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today gave further insight to ‘Melo’s selection, noting that Anthony received more votes from coaches than Beal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders described it as “a little obvious” that Serge Ibaka did not bond with his teammates in Orlando. Ibaka, who was dealt to Toronto on February 14, didn’t mesh with the playing styles of Orlando’s younger players (Twitter link). By Kyler’s account, it seems that Ibaka’s teammates “had real issues” with the 27-year-old, and welcomed a change.
  • Terrence Ross told Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders that he embraced the “fresh start” in Orlando. “I was kind of aware that something could have been happening before the deadline so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ross said. “At the same time, being drafted to a team and playing for one team, it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I just kind of hope we can bring some of that experience I got in Toronto and bring it here, and really just helping wherever I can.” Ross, who has averaged 10.4 points through 54 games in 2016/17, is in the first season of a three-year, $31.5MM contract.
  • Jason Smith will likely see a dip in minutes as the Wizards ease Ian Mahinmi into the lineup, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Smith, who has averaged 7.8 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last six games, has been a serviceable back-up to starter Marcin Gortat“What he’s [Smith] done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” said Coach Scott Brooks. “But if you have a good team, everybody’s going to have to sacrifice. It’s not just Jason, starters are going to have to sacrifice.”

Southeast Notes: Beal, Gortat, Hibbert

The Wizards have struggled this season and Bradley Beal believes he needs do his part in displaying leadership in order to turn the season around, David Aldridge of NBA.com writes. “It’s up to [John Wall] and I to do a better job of leading,” Beal said. “We have to show by example. It falls on us at the end of the day. The responsibility goes on us. We have to be able to pick up our teammates, pick up ourselves when we’re not having the game we want or each other’s not having a good game, we have to be there mentally and vocally to pick each other up.” 

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Despite Washington’s struggles, it would not be wise to deal Wall, Aldridge contends in the same piece. Aldridge argues that if the Wizards trade anyone, it should be Marcin Gortat. The team handed Ian Mahinmi a four-year, $64MM contract— a deal worth more than Gortat’s— during the offseason and Aldridge speculates that the addition is something that bothers Gortat. The scribe believes that trading the 32-year-old for some reinforcements off the bench may be the best move for the franchise.
  • Roy Hibbert is enjoying his time playing for the Hornets and he doesn’t have an issue with coming off the bench for the team, as he tells Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. “Everything has been going well,” Hibbert said. “It’s a really good group of guys who want to win. It’s a good organization. Everybody is all about winning.”
  • Hibbert had some interesting comments on David West signing with the Warriors, Agness adds in the same piece. “It’s a good opportunity for him,” Hibbert said of West’s decision. “It’s a good team over there, obviously. He played for two good organizations, San Antonio – and he’s playing for a good one now.” West and Hibbert played four seasons together on the Pacers.
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