Gortat to Clippers: A domino effect on centers?
NBA centers take center stage
We are just days away from the start of NBA Free Agency (YAY!) and with Tuesday afternoon’s report on twitter via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers are swapping Marcin Gortat and Austin Rivers in a trade, many are now feeling that this trade could have more of an affect on bigs around the league.
Tuesday’s trade could definitely have a domino effect moving forward for both the Wizards and the Clippers and for centers set to enter free agency.
Enter… unrestricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic.
On Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers sent Nurkic a qualifying offer and thus, he will now become a restricted free agent this summer.
Nurkic averaged 14.3 points and nine rebounds per game last season. But where could he end up? And, what will the Clippers do with DeAndre Jordan now that Gortat is coming to town? Let’s explore all of this a bit more.
So… What about the Wizards center situation now?
After an injury-riddled first season in Washington, Wizards backup center Ian Mahinmi was healthy and played pretty well this past season averaging 4.8 ppg and 4.1 rpg.
Some around the league expect Mahinmi to be the starter, however, the Wizards could also be on the lookout for a cheaper center.
There are many reasons why trading Gortat made sense for Washington and a lot of it had to do with money.
Gortat was set to enter his fifth year of a $60 million contract he signed in 2014. The Wizards had more than $34 million tied up in three centers with Gortat, Mahinmi and Jason Smith.
In this day in age of the NBA, Washington should be able to snag a big to round out its rotation for a lot cheaper than what Gortat would have cost them.
How could this trade affect the Blazers and Jusuf Nurkic?
Think back to July of 2015 for a moment.
What do you remember about that NBA free agency? The Blazers offered a four-year $70-million max offer sheet to then Thunder center Enes Kanter?
Yep, that forced OKC’s hand. Could that happen with Nurkic?
Well, not with that type of money. So, you can exhale now.
BUT, if the Wizards are trying to get a young big to replace Gortat, they could look to make Nurkic an offer in free agency, the price of that offer sheet will be the most anticipated “number” around Rip City.
What does this mean for DeAndre Jordan?
It’s going to be interesting to see what the Clippers do next with DeAndre Jordan. He has spent the first 10 years of his NBA career with the Clippers, but now the writing is on the wall.
Even before the Clippers-Wizards trade, there were plenty of rumblings that Jordan’s time in LA was over.
Could something happen where Jordan ends up with the Blazers?
1. Reports were flying before the trade deadline this year that Portland was interested in trading for Jordan.
2. Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey is the guy who helped draft DeAndre back in 2008 when he was an assistant GM with the Clippers.
Either way, you should expect Jordan to be on the move, be it via trade after opting into the last year of his deal or by leaving as a free agent after opting out.
Would DJ be a good fit in Portland though? Let’s weigh the pros and the cons…
Could DeAndre Jordan be a good fit with this Blazers roster?
If the Blazers lose Nurkic there will be an obvious hole to fill at center. Now, Portland wouldn’t have the money to land Jordan on the open market, but if he opts-in with the Clippers he is a viable trade target.
Jordan could make $24.1 next season, meaning Portland could package of some of its larger contracts (Turner -$17.9mil, Harkless - $10.8mil, Leonard – $10.6mil) and picks to grab Jordan.
The Clippers may not be willing to take on those contracts, but they may not have a choice if Jordan wants out. LA may also be entering a rebuild, in which case freeing up nearly $30 million for the summer of 2020 is not a bad idea.
Jordan is still one of the best defensive centers in the league, is a lock to finish around the rim, and would help both Lillard and McCollum in the pick and roll.
Nurkic still looks like Plan A, but Jordan seems to be a viable Plan B.