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One on one: Re-evaluating Gortat's contract

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One on one: Re-evaluating Gortat's contract

With the intense NBA offseason cooling down, there is time for reflection on what the Washington Wizards accomplished and a chance to look at the road ahead. For the next couple of weeks,CSNWashington.com Insider J. Michael and Wizards correspondent Ben Standig will examine various issues and answer questions as the Wizards move toward the 2015-16 campaign.

Does Marcin Gortat’s five-year, $60 million contract look better or worse one year later?

J. Michael: Gortat joked about it last season, knowing that when free agency hits that $60 million over five years will end up being modest as the salary cap continues to grow. NBA teams have been notified that it’ll jump from $70 million this summer to $90 million next summer and approximately $108 million in 2017.

Like I say time and again about free agency, it’s not about Player A being better than Player B therefore Player A will/should get the better deal. It's about the salary cap and supply-demand economics. Contracts are relative to the market at that time. When Gortat was a free agent, there weren't any other quality true centers out there (Aaron Gray, Cole Aldrich, Spencer Hawes, you get the picture?). The Wizards were able to give him a fifth year, unlike other teams who only could give him four if he sacrificed his Bird rights to leave in free agency. This is the leverage granted under the 2011 CBA to help teams retain their own players. This is why the fifth year exists. If the Wizards only offered him four years -- the same as the competition -- and he left who would've been his replacement? Again, look at the names I listed in the open market. Limited resources means competitive bidding means higher prices.

Enes Kanter, a restricted free agent, made $70 million from the Oklahoma City Thunder because they were obligated to match the max offer he received from the Portland Trail Blazers this summer.  Kanter isn’t half the defensive force that Gortat is. He can give up more points than he scores. Omer Asik, who has had a history of back spasms and not nearly the offensive game, got the same deal as Gortat. There were plenty of centers on the market this summer which makes the salary numbers even more stunning considering how teams appear to be going to smaller lineups which should, in theory, decrease their value.

MORE WIZARDS: PICK PIERCE OR PICK DEPTH?

What could look like overpayment today (I thought Gortat's deal was not, for the record) looks like a bargain 12 months from now. Far lesser players will continue to make more money. Gortat may be on the other side of 30 but he stays in great shape. Tyson Chandler has a long injury history and will be 33 when the season starts. He was given a four-year, $52 million deal from the Phoenix Suns this summer.

Ben Standig: One could make the argument that the deal looks even better in the short term when noting deals signed this summer by Asik, Kanter and Robin Lopez. Something else we should note: The Polish Machine dropped the hammer on opponents after the All-Star break. In 28 games, Gortat averaged 13.4 points on 62 percent shooting from the field with 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while committing less than one turnover per game despite averaging over 31 minutes. Not sure everyone remembers, but an argument could also be made that Gortat was the Wizards' best player over the final weeks of the season. He also dominated Toronto in Washington's first round sweep, though had a tougher time against Atlanta's mobile frontcourt in the semifinal round loss.

All that said, there really wasn't much of an issue with the first 2-3 years of Gortat's deal. The concern centered on the final two seasons when he turns 34 and 35. Gortat's lack of wear-and-tear from limited use early in his career has been well documented. He's played 184 out of a possible 185 games over two years in Washington, including 21 playoff games. The one possible game-changer is just how much the game has seemingly changed in quick order with regards to small ball lineups. But big men still roam the courts and Gortat is poised to be Washington's top one for a while. 

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Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Just a few weeks ago, the Masai Ujiri-to-D.C. movement was gaining steam quickly. Just moments after Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors began celebrating their NBA Championship, reports began to swirl that the Wizards were prepared to aggressively pursue the GM.

Sources told NBC Sports Washington that there could be the possibility of a sort of mega-deal that went beyond just giving him control of the Wizards. But Wizards owner Ted  Leonsis denied earlier this month that the team had reached out, saying that "we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."

And on Tuesday, Uriji seemed to make it official that he will stay in Toronto.

"I love it here, my family loves it here. My wife loves it here, which is very important. My kids are Canadians. You want to win more, for me," Ujiri said on Tuesday during his end-of-season press conference.

"Yeah, I can continue to address teams wanting me and all those things. That's a blessing in life," Ujiri said. "For me the blessing is being wanted here and finding a place that makes you happy, and finding challenges that really make you grow as a person. This place has made me grow as a person."

"I identify with this place and I love it. So in my mind, I'm here."

On paper, Ujiri and the Wizards looked to be a good match. Washington could offer him money and control, while also allowing him to work with his "Basketball without Borders" program in D.C.

As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh explained recently, the Raptors late-season championship run could have messed up the timing and situation that could have lured Ujiri to a new team.

The Wizards made it through the NBA Draft without a new GM, but as July and free agency approach, the search may continue to ramp up.

The answer is still out there, it just may not be Masai Ujiri anymore.

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Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

The Wizards added two pieces during the 2019 NBA Draft that franchise expects to be vital pieces of their future in Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura at No. 9 and Tennessee's Admiral Schofield at No. 42

Before Monday night's 2018-19 NBA Awards ceremony, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller caught up with the two faces of the franchise, Bradley Beal and John Wall, to see what they thought of the new additions to the squad.

Beal had high praise for Hachimura.

"I didn't know much," Beal said on what he knew about the Gonzaga product prior to the draft. "But from what I've seen watching the draft and things I've seen pre-draft and things like that, he's a monster."

The praise did not stop there. 

"He plays hard, extremely hard," Beal said. "Hopefully, he can have an impact right away." 

While an immediate impact would be beneficial for a Wizards team that could use Hachimura's scoring (he averaged 19.7 points per game at Gonzaga), Beal understands that Hachimura is still a very raw player. After all, he's only been playing basketball for eight years.

"But at the same time, we want him to grow," Beal said on Hachimura. "We know he hasn't been playing too long. But that's something we can build off of and mold him into the player we need him to be. He has tremendous upside, and I'm excited to get going. Hopefully, come September, October he's ready to go."

While Beal may not have known too much about Hachimura, he had followed the other Wizards draft pick, Admiral Schofield, for quite some time. 

"I love his game; I loved him in college," Beal said on Schofield. 

Beal joked about Schofield's body type, wondering whether basketball is the sport the Wizards second-round pick should be playing.

"He's got a football body. He's built like a tight end, wide receiver," Beal said. "I'm definitely happy that we have him, a fellow SEC guy. Him and [Jordan] McRae are going to hit it off. He can shoot, he's athletic, so I'm definitely excited to have him as well."

While Wall did not go into as much detail as Beal about the Wizards draft class, he was just as excited about the two new additions.

"I think it's good," Wall said. "We added some pieces [in the draft], [we'll] see what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

According to head coach Scott Brooks, both Beal and Wall can identify talent very well

"The thing I love about John and Brad: they love the game," Brooks said last week. "You can call them up, there could be high school players, WNBA players, it could be college players, it could be European players, they know them."

"It's like, 'don't you guys have a life?'" Brooks joked.

Wall spent most of his time with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller discussing his Achilles rehab, where he revealed he is going to begin jogging soon. That's a good sign for the Wizards, even though Wall s expected to miss the majority of the 2019-2020 season.

In Hachimura and Schofield, the Wizards got two pieces that are not expected to contribute right away, but also potentially have the ability to do so. Earning high praise from the two most important players on the Wizards' roster is a good start for both of the Wizards 2019 NBA Draft selections. 

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