Marcin Gortat isn't shy about offering an opinion. Sometimes the Wizards' starting center blurts out what's on his mind no matter the level of honesty. That's perhaps why at times the veteran has learned his best response is saying nothing at all.
The level of silence late last season and at times during Monday's media day at Verizon Center spoke volumes about Gortat's mood during a campaign that ended with the Wizards missing the playoffs, changing head coaches and overhauling the roster.
Gortat was largely playful with members of the media Monday, whether discussing:
*His initial impressions of new head coach and recent dinner companion Scott Brooks ("He paid the bill for the restaurant, so that's good. He's a good guy.")
* How he and free agent center addition Ian Mahinmi will work together ("I wish to play together with him. At the same time, unfortunately I'm like 99 percent sure only one of us will play at the same time.")
* Why he's intrigued by the addition of fellow European import Tomas Satoransky ("I'm excited to have another white guy on the team.")
When it came to just about anything involving last season, the free-flowing talk dammed up.
Asked how he hopes Brooks will be different from ex-coach Randy Wittman, Gortat responded, "Oh, man, I don't want to answer this question, man. Sorry." On his mood during the final 2-3 months of last season, he said, "Man, you don't want to know. I don't want to discuss. It was bad." On frequently ducking out after games before reporters arrived in the locker room, he explained it was to protect his frustrated self from saying who knows what on the record. As to whether winning helps cure the woes, Gortat said, "There was a lot of things going on. It doesn't matter."
Wittman and Gortat clashed at times over the years with the big man's role and minutes, especially in late game situations. The coach twice directed Washington to the Eastern Conference semifinals, but his direct and acerbic form of communication wasn't for everybody.
The way Gortat sees it, that was then. The "rejuvenated" Polish Machine is ready to hammer whatever comes his way this upcoming season.
"We obviously have a new team," Gortat said with a reference beyond the roster. "What I mean by that is not only the players, but we have a new PR guy, a new guy in the weight room, a new trainer. A few new guys in the marketing (department). We do have a completely new team. Just because we're called the Washington Wizards doesn't mean everything is the same. We have a lot of new things on the team, including the carpet in the locker room. It's fresh. We have a nice logo. We've got two coolers now with drinks, with Gatorade's, not only one. There's a lot of new things around."
Does new mean more fun?
"You know what, I'll answer this question probably in a few weeks, a few months, but what I can tell you right now -- I've been here about a week. It was fun to be here. It was fun to be here and play with these guys pickup games. ...Everybody was running, everybody was doing the right thing. We had fun being here. We were not forced to be here. We really enjoyed being here together and work together," he said.
Gortat, who averaged 13.5 points and 9.9 rebounds in 75 games last season, understands that guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are the main options for a team looking to improve on their disappointing 41-41 record. He knows about Brooks's impressive resume from his time with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. Perhaps most of all, he understands that he even though he stayed put, the 2016-17 represents a fresh start in Washington.
For the record, outside of a dinner and another interaction, Gortat didn't do any homework on his new coach.
"No, I didn't study. I definitely didn't study him in my five months off, Coach Brooks," Gortat cracked. "I ain't gonna [BS] you here. I was studying different things in the summer: The beach and the pool."