Marcin Gortat made a point to stay clear of everyone when the Wizards' season ended April 13 -- actually, for about the last month of the season he made himself invisible -- but he took time out from working on his tan in sunny Orlando where he lives during his down time to discuss his new coach Scott Brooks.
"I think it was a great decision. Scott Brooks is a very experienced coach. He knows how to handle two big stars on the team. He worked with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook," Gortat told CSNmidatlantic.com after Brooks was acquired on a five-year deal worth $35 million. "I think he’s going to be the right person in the right spot. Obviously we’re going to have to change things around on the team..
"The most important thing is he’s a defensive coach so we know we’re going to win with defense, not with the offense."
In a 41-41 season that ended with the Wizards outside the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, they ranked ninth in points scored per game (104.1) and 21st in points allowed (104.6). Compare that to a year ago when they won 46 games and allowed just 97.8 points which was 10th-best and ranked 17th in scoring at 98.5.
But as big of an issue for the Wizards, outlined here and at the core of then-coach Randy Wittman's downfall before he was fired last week, is the culture in the locker room has to be right. He probably unintentionally pitted players against one another by playing favorites and angered some veterans by ignoring them because they didn't have Paul Pierce's resume.
"I truly believe to be successful in this league, you got to hold players accountable. I truly believe that coach Brooks is going to do this from Day One," Gortat said. "I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge for him.
"We have a lot of people who have a lot of different habits during the basketball season. To be successful I truly believe we have to be held accountable. At the same time we got to hold each other accountable."
The grit that typified the Wizards in previous seasons evaporated. They didn't play as hard for Wittman as they once did.
"It’s going to be a fresh start for a lot of players. At the end of the day It’s about us. We have to come out next year with much better focus, prepared much better. Coach Wittman lost his job but at the end of the day it wasn’t completely his fault," Gortat said. "We play basketball games. Not coach. We have to be responsible for some of the play during the season. We can hire Phil Jackson but if we’re not going to compete, if we’re not going to play with a bigger passion or bigger heart we’re not going to win any games."
MORE WIZARDS: Durant aside, this is how Scott Brooks makes sense