According to multiple sources, the Washington Wizards on Friday traded Emeka Okafor and a protected 2014 first round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for center Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall and Malcolm Lee. According to The Washington Post, the team expects to release Brown, Marshall and Lee.
“We have solidified our frontcourt by adding a player who has established himself as a very consistent and productive inside presence over the last three seasons,” Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said via press release. “Marcin’s ability to rebound, defend and score will allow us to continue where we left off last season and pushes us further toward our goal of becoming a playoff team.”
Gortat, 6’11″, 240, averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds last season for the Suns. He missed the last 21 games of the season with a right foot injury, though he did play summer ball in his native Poland. Gortat is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $7.7 million this season.
Okafor has missed the Wizards training camp with a herniated disk in his neck and it’s still to be determined when he can resume basketball activities. He averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds last season in 79 games. Okafor is in the final year of his $14.5 million per season deal.
The 2014 first round pick is protected through the No. 12 overall selection.
This move further signifies the Wizards insistence on making the playoffs this season, though it hardly ensures anything beyond this year. The team is unlikely to re-sign Gortat short of an All-Star campaign, and they surrender a high pick in what should be a very deep draft class next year. GM Ernie Grunfeld has made every move this off-season with an eye toward the post-season, and the revenue that is associated with that distinction, even if those moves aren’t necessarily long-term in thinking.