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Gortat: Unnecessary for Randy Wittman 'to call me out in the media'

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Gortat: Unnecessary for Randy Wittman 'to call me out in the media'

It took Marcin Gortat a moment to clear his throat, which followed a long pause, after being asked what he thought of being criticized by Wizards coach Randy Wittman for his lack of rebounding and playing big in a 24-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even though Gortat's name was never mentioned, he doesn't like it. 

"I've been called out in the media. People can see this differently but bottom line is I've been called out," said Gortat after Friday's practice in his first comments since then when he grabbed just one defensive rebound in 28 minutes. "I agree, I had one defensive rebound and I get that. I should have more. There's no secret about that. I got to do a better job. I truly believe that games like that will happen during the season. I just got to do a better job obviously. Games like that happen. Last year, too. ... I just got to do better."

Then came another pause before adding: "I don't think it was necessary to call me out in the media like that. It happened. I heard a different story in training camp, that stuff like that won't happen. But it happened so I disagree with what he did."

The Wizards are playing the Orlando Magic here on Saturday in hopes of ending a three-game losing streak in which they've been blown out each game.

In Gortat's third season in Washington, his relationship with Wittman occasionally been rocky when it comes to his rebounding, physical play and willingness to roll to the basket instead of fading away on jump shots. 

"Nah, it is what it is," Gortat said when asked if he felt motivated as a result. "He's the man who's in charge and I'm a player. I have to follow the rules. I have to follow what he says. That's it. It's a business."

Has he sat down with Wittman to work it out?

"Nah, and I won't," Gortat said. "I got nothing to talk about."

For his part, Wittman tried to spread the blame more evenly earlier this week when his postgame comments were revisited.

"It didn’t matter who it is, if it’s the center, in 28 minutes we got to get more than one defensive rebound. Defensive rebounding is our strength. It’s been our strength. We got to get that back," Wittman said. "That’s everybody. I can’t have Bradley Beal out there playing 28 minutes getting one defensive rebound. John Wall. They’re too capable. It doesn’t matter who it is. We got to get back to doing that as a group."

I believe one of the reasons I didn't have many rebounds is that we're giving up 100 points in three quarters. There's not much to rebound is the first thing. The second thing, I'm challenging a lot of shots. The stat sheets don't lie. ... I've been helping on a lot of different rotations and I'm pretty much out of position over half of the time. The other half when I'm other the basket the ball most of the time goes in the basket. It is what it is. That's no an excuse at all. I'm saying what happened. I watched the game. I watched the statistic from the game. There probably were two, three situations where I probably should have the rebound in my hands and I just didn't secure the ball. But stuff like that will happen. ... It's a part of the game. I don't think I was the biggest problem in that game."

Gortat has been on a different page than his teammates, particularly Wall last season when it came to responsibilities on pick-and-roll defense. He was being benched in fourth quarters as Wittman went to smaller lineups, something that visibly angered the big man. Two seasons ago, Gortat drew Wittman's ire for questioning his role in the offense. 

"To play correct defense, we need all five players to box out. It's a bottom line," said Gortat, who angered Paul Pierce last season when he blamed individual defense for a stretch of bad play and not team defense. "We need to play together. We need to be on the same page. If we go help on the small guy, the small guy got to go help to the big."

The low-post touches haven't been there for Gortat, who can become disengaged when he's not involved early. The Wizards (3-4) have relied heavily on scoring from Wall, Beal and Otto Porter. But Gortat, who went back to a 114-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks last weekend, doesn't believe he needs the ball early and often. He wants them to do a better job as an offense to take advantage of mismatches.

"I just got to communicate with John. I think I've been doing a better job, I've been in touch with him the last two weeks constantly talking to him, sending messages telling him we have to activate different areas of our game," Gortat said. "I told him there are sometimes the other team is coming down, just like in Atlanta, when Jared (Dudley) was at the four, they automatically throw the ball to Paul Millsap. Paul Millsap was going at Jared. We have to do the same thing. For example, if (Mike) Muscala shows up in the game, you got to throw me the ball so I can attack him. We got to be smart about a lot of things. I talked to John about it. He agreed with me." 

MORE: Bradley Beal still on sideline, looks unlikely vs. Magic

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Jodie Meeks' season...

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $3.3 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.5 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 86.3 FT%, 49.1 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 11/29 at Sixers - 21 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5-for-11 FG, 3-for-6 3PT, 8-for-9 FT

Season review: The Wizards took a flier on Jodie Meeks last summer in what seemed at the time to be a low-risk contract with a potentially high reward, if he could stay healthy and play to his career norms. They were in obvious need of help at backup shooting guard and three-point shooting for their bench.

Meeks fell short of those expectations for a variety of reasons. Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he could not make shots at the clip the Wizards were hoping for. His field goal percentage was not far off from what he posted in recent years, but his three-point percentage was nowhere near the 38.8 percent he shot in his previous four seasons.

Meeks bottomed out midseason, shooting 28.9 percent from three in December and 28 percent in January. Those numbers ticked up beginning in February, but Meeks never fully gained the trust of his coaching staff. He rarely got hot enough to alter games and his best stat-lines often came in blowouts. 

There was a domino effect from Meeks' struggles, as starting shooting guard Bradley Beal had no one to spell him. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player this season.

For Meeks personally, it was a bittersweet year because staying healthy was no small feat. He had a run of bad luck and finally broke out of it this season. On the other hand, he never made the impact he felt he was capable of and that wasn't easy for a guy joining a new team and a new locker room.

Meeks' 2017-18 season was ultimately defined by more than his shooting woes. First, he expressed interest in a trade in February and did not get his wish. Then, he was suspended for allegedy using performance-enhancing drugs after the regular season ended. He was out for the playoffs and will miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season without pay as he waits out a 25-game ban.

Meeks may or may not serve that suspension as a member of the Wizards. He has a player option for next season worth $3.5 million. He has yet to inform the team of his decision, but the expectation is that he will pick it up. Given how poorly his season went and ended, it would likely be the smart move financially for him to opt in and hope for better results next season.

Potential to improve: Shooting percentage, perimeter defense, passing

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

Tim Frazier, PG

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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