Going into the free agency period, the Wizards along with the rest of the NBA knew this one thing: Marcin Gortat was an indispensable piece that many teams were going to target. But damn those ‘many’ teams, because before the first day of free agency ended, the Wizards emerged with a power move, agreeing to a contract extension for the big man they once traded away a first-round pick for; the big man that instantaneously helped the Wizards recover all that was lost down low after Emeka Okafor’s injury; the big man whose end-to-end skill sets, consistency, and passion led the Wizards into the second round of the playoffs.
Never forget: Marcin Gortat’s memorable Game 5 performance in Indy to keep the Wiz alive
The Wizards made it rain (though not officially, yet) on Gortat yesterday, showering him with nearly a half-dozen contract years, worth something around $60 million, reportedly. At the peaking NBA age of 30, that’s certainly caused a bit of discontentment amongst many fans and critics. Sure the $12 million per year figure was inevitable, and certainly Gortat is worthy of that kind of moola given his irreplaceable production last season. But is guaranteeing every penny of that contract, as reported, over the next five years okay?
I say it’s A-OKAY.
Listen, I get the unease that has rooted from Ted and Ernie’s commitment to keeping Gortat on board long term. For some, it may even bring up thoughts of the similar contract extension Nene signed in Denver, and the subsequent buyer’s remorse that forced the Nuggets to trade Nene to DC. But of course Nene had clear and apparent health issues (as he still does today), while the skepticism over Gortat’s long term deal is based on the mere fright that he’ll be well into his decline before his contract is up.
I GET ALL THAT. ALL OF IT.
But logically, it’s not a terrible decision. In fact, it makes more sense than it doesn’t. Gortat has yet to show any signs of declination, and there’s nothing we’ve seen in his game that can prove that he’s not worthy of a deal this large. Gortat was a machine, of the Polish variety, last year for the Wizards down low. He was an end-to-end player who surpassed any and all expectations the Wizards and their fans had when he was acquired to replace Okafor. His prowess on the pick-and-roll ignited a Wizards’ half-court offense that at one time moved like molasses before he showed up. His defense of the paint and protection of the rim improved immensely as the season wore on. His leadership and character buzzed throughout the locker room and shed over the youngsters looking for direction.
From a front office position, there aren’t many options supplied when you’re trying to retain your own unrestricted free agent, who happens to be a the best center on the market, coming off a career year. The Wizards were leaning towards just four years for Gortat, but Gortat demanded five. The Wizards had no leverage to contest his wishes. All of this has been expected since the moment the Wizards sacrificed their first round pick to acquire Gortat. They got far beyond what they hoped for from Gortat, leaving the Wizards no choice but to honor whatever was needed to keep him aboard.
— John Wall (@John_Wall) July 2, 2014
And lastly, let’s not forget about John Wall here, the franchise player the Wizards maxed out to stay in Washington. It would seem that cementing the player whom Wall embraces playing with, and the player who supplies Wall with his most coveted tool – the pick and pop – is a no brainer, even if it renders inflexibility down the road.