Marcin Gortat

Southeast Notes: Ross, Gortat, Adebayo, Aminu

Magic forward Terrence Ross has ramped up his production in recent weeks, John Denton of the team’s website details. Ross is averaging 20.3 PPG over his last 12 games. He’s settled in comfortably as a sixth man after re-signing with the team on a four-year, $54MM contract. “I just have a better understanding of how things go over a long season and I feel like now I know what works and what doesn’t,” said Ross. “I just think I have really found my niche now.”

We have more Southeast Division news:

  • Former Wizards center Marcin Gortat regrets his rift with John Wall during his latter years in Washington, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Gortat expressed that in an NBC Sports podcast. “Playing with John was extremely great. I wish I could sacrifice more time to be a better leader back then, during the fourth and fifth year in the locker room,” said Gortat, who has retired. “Now I can just say ‘I wish.’ But again, five years was extremely great and amazing to me.”
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo believes the next step for him is to become a 3-point threat, he told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Adebayo has made just one 3-pointer this season and four in his young career. “That will become a conversation [with coach Erik Spoelstra] because at the end of the day, he wants me to get better,” Adebayo said. “He wants me to be unguardable. He wants me to help this team win. In the future, it will be a conversation we will have.”
  • Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu endured a rough first season with the club, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic details. The highly-regarded defender signed a three-year, $29.2MM contract with Orlando during the off-season but he only played 18 games before injuring his right knee, which eventually required surgery“You have a lot of disappointments throughout life, and you learn how to deal with it,” Aminu said. “I’ve been just been finding the silver lining and finding other things in order to keep myself entertained and keep myself busy and keep myself being productive.”

And-Ones: Gortat, Felton, Ball, Okoro

Veteran NBA center Marcin Gortat decided to retire from professional basketball last month, walking away from a league where he played for four teams across 12 years.

Gortat, 36, saw his last NBA season come during the 2018/19 campaign with the Clippers and spent much of this season contemplating his future.

“It’s sad but you know, the whole adventure and the whole ‘Polish Hammer’ thing has to end at some point,” Gortat said, according to Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports. “I’m happy that after 12 years I achieved so much being the 57th pick in the draft. Now, I’ve got the good part and I’m going to enjoy my life and enjoy the other guys watching them play on the court.”

Gortat returned to Washington and watched the Wizards play the Hawks on Friday, receiving a video tribute from the organization. He helped the franchise make the playoffs in four of his five seasons, playing physical basketball on both ends of the floor.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent Raymond Felton won’t be signing in the Czech Republic after all, according to Niccolo Scavuzzo of Sportando. Felton reportedly reached agreement with Jindřichův Hradec, with the team’s GM suggesting in an official statement that the point guard would report until April, but it appears that announcement was premature.
  • LiAngelo Ball is signing with the Oklahoma City Blue, G League affiliate of the Thunder, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Ball is continuing his pursuit of an NBA deal by way of the G League, with the 21-year-old going undrafted back in 2018.
  • In an article for ESPN Insider, Jonathon Givony and Mike Schmitz detail why Isaac Okoro might be a top-five NBA draft pick this June. Okoro, 19, is a 6-foot-6 small forward who currently plays at Auburn.

Marcin Gortat Announces Retirement

Former NBA center Marcin Gortat confirmed his retirement from basketball in an interview with TVP Info (hat tip to Eurohoops.net).

“It’s time to end my career,” Gortat said. “I think this is the moment when the year has passed – as I said at the beginning, I give myself a year [off] to see what life will bring me – and it brought me to this decision, that I am going to retire, I’m finishing my professional playing.”

The Polish native played 12 NBA seasons, spending most of his time with the Magic, Suns and Wizards. His career ended when the Clippers waived him before the end of the 2018/19 season. He reportedly had a chance to play in Poland last month, but turned it down because of health concerns.

After being taken with the 57th pick in the 2005 draft, Gortat went on to appear in 806 NBA games. He averaged 9.9 PPG and 7.9 RPG for his career.

And-Ones: BIG3, Gortat, Mack, Chalmers

The BIG3 has announced some changes in advance of its 2020 season, as Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com details. Most notably, Ice Cube‘s 3-on-3 league will lower the minimum age from 27 to 22 in order to try to eliminate the perception that the BIG3 is only for retired NBA players.

“I think lowering the age does erase the stigma,” Ice Cube told Woodyard. “It might’ve kept people from playing in the BIG3 because they don’t want to seem like they’re done.”

The BIG3 will also hold open tryouts this spring and will welcome two-sport athletes, as Woodyard details.

The most entertaining change to the league’s on-court rules is the introduction of a team’s once-per-half ability to challenge a foul call. Rather than having a replay official make a ruling, a challenge will result in an in-game, one-on-one possession, with the victor winning the call. The full list of changes can be found here.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Longtime NBA center Marcin Gortat was recently approached by Polish team Anwil Wloclawek, but rebuffed the club’s interest for health reasons, he told Interia.pl (hat tip to Sportando). Gortat suggested in the same interview that he will likely announce his retirement from the NBA at some point this year.
  • Veteran point guard Shelvin Mack, who had been playing for Olimpia Milano, has left the Italian team and is expected to join Hapoel Jerusalem in the Israeli League, according to Alessandro Maggi and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Mack, who has played more than 450 regular season NBA games, spent last season with Memphis and Charlotte.
  • Another former NBA point guard, Mario Chalmers, has had his contract with AEK Athens extended through the end of the 2019/20 season, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Chalmers signed with the Greek club in November.
  • For a long time, the head of basketball operations for an NBA team was given the title of general manager, or perhaps president of basketball operations. In recent years though, those titles have become more varied, with minor distinctions helping to establish a hierarchy in front offices. Jake Fischer of The Washington Post takes a deep dive into NBA management titles and explores how Silicon Valley’s influence has changed things.

Western Notes: Wolves, Hart, Suns, Melton

In his first offseason as the Timberwolves‘ president of basketball operations, Gersson Rosas wasn’t in position to significantly reshape the roster.

While the Timberwolves reportedly made a run at D’Angelo Russell, their roster and cap limitations made it difficult to make a splash. However, that doesn’t mean the team’s front office won’t be looking for opportunities to shake things up during the 2019/20 season, writes Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune.

“We’re at a stage where we’re going to continue to be aggressive,” Rosas said of the Timberwolves. “We don’t have our championship team yet. When you’re at that stage, you want to do less because you want to have that continuity. We’re at the opposite end right now, where we’re establishing our core group and moving forward. A lot of teams aren’t like that. … But we can’t be waiting for the phone to ring. We have to make those calls to make sure that any opportunity that we can improve ourselves, we’re taking advantage of that.”

According to Rosas, there were a few potential opportunities for the Timberwolves to make a move leading up to Monday’s roster deadline, but nothing ultimately lined up and the team simply waived Tyrone Wallace to set its roster. Still, Rosas says that are looking “every day” for “opportunities to add.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Pelicans wing Josh Hart has signed with CAA Sports for representation on and off the court, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal, who tweets that Hart will be repped by agents Leon Rose and Aaron Mintz. The 24-year-old will have his 2020/21 option picked up by New Orleans, which will make him eligible for a rookie scale extension next year.
  • As Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic relays, Marcin Gortat became the latest NBA veteran to take a shot at the Suns, calling the team “the worst organization” he has ever played for in a recent Polish interview. Earlier this month, Draymond Green criticized Phoenix for mishandling Marquese Chriss after drafting him eighth overall in 2016.
  • Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton, acquired from Phoenix in an offseason trade, initially wasn’t expecting to make his regular-season debut until sometime in November due to a back issue. However, he was cleared for the team’s opener and made a brief appearance on Wednesday in Miami. David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the full story on Melton beating his recovery timeline and what the Grizzlies might expect from him in 2019/20.

Lakers To Work Out Noah, Speights, Howard

The Lakers plan to work out free agent centers Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights as well as the Grizzlies’ Dwight Howard this week in Los Angeles, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Another NBA free agent, Marcin Gortat, could also come in for a look, Wojnarowski adds. The Lakers want to evaluate the physical condition and mindset of each player as they seek to replace DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins suffered a torn ACL this month after he signed a one-year contract with the Lakers. Cousins could miss the entire season.

The Grizzlies had already granted the Lakers permission to meet with Howard. Memphis acquired him from the Wizards this offseason but he’s not part of their plans. The Grizzlies could make a trade or reach a buyout on his $5.6MM contract if the Lakers want him.

Noah averaged 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 41 games for Memphis last season after his woeful stint with the Knicks. He hasn’t drawn much attention on the free agent market, though he reportedly was being very selective about his next NBA destination.

Speights, who played in China last season, worked out in front of numerous NBA executives last month in Las Vegas.

Gortat was waived by the Clippers at the trade deadline last season and didn’t get picked up.

The Lakers currently have 14 players with guaranteed deals.

Atlantic Notes: Zion, Raptors, Loyd, Moreland, Sixers

The Knicks apparently won’t have to worry about Zion Williamson demanding a trade if they win the lottery. Williamson said on Friday that he would “love to play” for the Knicks if they drafted him, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. The Duke freshman made the remark during a Final Four press conference while accepting the Oscar Robertson (Player of the Year) Award. He went on to say he’d be happy to go wherever he was drafted.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors made a number of cost-cutting moves during the course of the season that saved an approximate $18MM, as Blake Murphy of The Athletic details. Waiving Lorenzo Brown, dumping the salaries of Malachi Richardson and Greg Monroe, trading three players for Marc Gasol, getting Gasol to waive his trade kicker, and signing players to 10-day contracts to meet roster requirements all contributed to a healthier bottom line.
  • The Raptors still have an open roster spot heading toward the playoffs and will likely sign a player, Murphy writes in the same story. Guard Jordan Loyd’s two-way contract could be converted to a standard contract and center Eric Moreland, who recently played on a 10-day contract, is another candidate. Veteran center Marcin Gortat could also be in play.
  • The 76ers believe their powerhouse starting lineup will be the difference in the playoffs, even though they haven’t played much together, Michael Lee of The Athletic reports. They’ve gone 8-2 in games that Tobias Harris, J.J. Redick, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler have all been available to play. “Although that starting group hasn’t played that much basketball together, especially relative to the other teams, the excitement is to take the talent we have and quickly try to maximize that,” coach Brett Brown said.

Jodie Meeks’ 10-Day Contract Expires; Raptors Seeking Frontcourt Depth?

Jodie Meeks‘ 10-day contract with the Raptors has expired and the team is unlikely to renew it, tweets TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. Toronto has two weeks to add a 14th player to its roster to meet the league minimum.

Meeks, 31, appeared in two games for the Raptors during his 10-day day, averaging 7.5 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 12 minutes per contest. After having not appeared in an NBA game since last season, the veteran shot a strong 37.5% from beyond the arc.

While Meeks had a solid showing, Toronto may seek frontcourt depth despite the acquisition of Marc Gasol, Lewenberg tweets. He mentions former Wizards center Marcin Gortat as a possible target, adding that there’s “mutual interest” between the two sides. In 47 games with the Clippers, Gortat averaged 5.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG.

To be playoff eligible, players had to be waived by their previous club ahead before March 1, so Gortat would qualify if he signs with a new team.

Bucks Consider Adding Marcin Gortat

The Bucks have talked about signing former Clippers center Marcin Gortat, but no move will be made right away, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Sources tell Stein that Milwaukee’s interest hasn’t progressed past the discussion stage.

L.A. waived Gortat at the trade deadline to open a roster spot so the team could complete a trade with the Grizzlies for JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple. Because he was released before today’s deadline, Gortat would be playoff eligible for anyone who picks him up.

The Clippers acquired Gortat in a trade last summer, hoping he would help make up for the loss of free agent center DeAndre Jordan. However, Gortat got off to a slow start and wound up averaging just 16 minutes per night in a crowded frontcourt.

The Bucks have a full roster with 15 players, so a move would have to be made before they could add Gortat. The most likely odd man out would be Isaiah Canaan, who is on a 10-day contract.

Warriors Notes: Cousins, Durant, Cook, Roster Spot

For the first time since returning from an Achilles injury, Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins will be playing without a minutes restriction, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN. Cousins is averaging 23.4 minutes per night in 11 games and has rarely played more than 25 minutes. Coach Steve Kerr said game flow will determine how long Cousins is actually on the court, but there are no more medical restrictions.

“We’ll see how the games go,” Kerr said after today’s practice. “I don’t think we’ll change the plan too much in terms of how we’re going to play him in the rotations and all that, but I think once we get back into the rhythm we can absolutely play him for longer stretches, play him down the stretch if we like.”

He added that the plan was always to ease Cousins back into action for a month or so before unleashing him for full-time duty. The upcoming free agent has posted 13.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG in his limited playing time.

“He did a great job, DeMarcus did,” Kerr said. “So now we’re entering a different phase of the season. We’ll see how it goes, but nothing’s set in stone.”

There’s more Warriors news tonight:

  • Golden State officials are as uncertain as anyone about Kevin Durant‘s plans for free agency, writes Frank Isola of The Athletic“We have no idea what he’s going to do,” a team source said. “Everyone wants him to stay. There’s not much more we can sell him on. If he leaves, we’ll think of it as being lucky to have him for three great years.”
  • No matter where Durant winds up, teammate Quinn Cook could be with him, suggests Marc Berman of The New York Post. Cook and Durant have been friends since their AAU days and may be a package deal in free agency. “Any time you get to play with one of your best friends at the highest level is obviously a great thing,’’ Cook said. “He helps me so much off the floor and even more on the floor. He gets me so many open shots. We have a great connection out there. We know each other. We’ve been playing together the past 10-plus years.”
  • Two-way player Damion Lee appears to be the favorite to fill the 15th roster spot before the playoffs, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The Warriors haven’t given up on Bulls center Robin Lopez, but he won’t be playoff eligible if he’s not bought out before March 1. Another center, such as ex-Clipper Marcin Gortat, is possible, but Slater states that Damian Jones could recover from a pectoral tear by May, which would provide backup help in the middle.