February 22, 2020

Washington Wizards Wisely Lock Up Marcin Gortat on Day One of Free Agency

On the morning of July 1, the opening day of the NBA free agency period, The Washington Post reported that the Washington Wizards had already reached out to their two most important free agents, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. By the time day one of free agency was over, Gortat had himself a new deal to remain in Washington.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarwoski (via CBSSports.com), the deal is for five years and $60 million. Currently at the age of 30, locking up Gortat over the next five years likely means that the best years are still ahead of the Wizards in terms of their front court.

After trading away their first-round draft pick and Emeka Okafor in order to acquire Gortat from the Phoenix Suns, he was certainly their biggest priority. While Ariza is next on the checklist to bring back, Gortat did more than enough to warrant the contract that he’s been given.

Gortat became a reliable double-double machine for the Wizards last season. In the regular season, he averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Defensively, he was strong in the paint blocking 1.5 shots per game. Injuries weren’t a factor, either, as he played in 81 games and started 80 of them.

In the playoffs, Gortat got stronger. He averaged 13 points, but upped his rebounding average to 9.9 per game. In seven of Washington’s 11 playoffs games did he grab at least 10 rebounds, and six of those seven games were double-doubles. The most notable performance of his postseason, and likely regular season, was when he went for 31 points and 16 rebounds to force Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

From February 25 to April 5, Gortat all but earned a new contract for Washington. During that stretch, the Wizards were without their star big man Nene due to an injury. Over that 20-game stretch, Washington survived his absence thanks in large part to Gortat. He averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game to help lead the Wizards to a 12-8 record over that period of time.

If you haven’t kept close tabs on the Wizards, then you likely think that Gortat’s contract is a bit steep. However, the difference that he made and the advantage that he gives the Wizards is well worth the cash. Also, the market for centers this year is thin, so the Wizards really got the best available option.

Gortat brings hustle and heart to the Wizards that you don’t see on the stat sheet. While he may not statistically be the NBA’s best big man, Washington is better off with him, than without him. Re-signing him was an obvious priority for Washington and for good reason. Bringing him back on a five-year deal is a smart move that will pay off for the Wizards.

Now all that’s left is to re-sign Ariza and their playoff team will be once again complete.

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Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area and covers the Washington Nationals, Wizards and MiLB for District Sports Page. He’s had work published on Yahoo Sports and Rant Sports, and has made several radio show appearances across the country to discuss his works. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

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