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Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld sees Marcin Gortat as a 'big part' of team's future

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld sees Marcin Gortat as a 'big part' of team's future

One day after the Wizards were eliminated in the NBA Playoffs in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics, Wizards center Marcin Gortat openly questioned his future with the organization while meeting with reporters in his final media availability of the season. He noted the signing of center Ian Mahinmi the summer before and how both his role and the league had changed. Gortat said he and his agent would speak with the team to determine his next step.

On Wednesday, Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld confirmed that a conversation has already taken place. While addressing the media on the team's final predraft workout day, he sounded committed to keeping Gortat around.

"I've talked to March. March is with us. March, we've had him for four years. He's averaged a double-double for four years. He's been in the second round for three out of those four years and is a big part of what we're doing. Everybody has frustration after a tough loss and a tough series. March is with us and he's going to be a big part of what we're doing," Grunfeld said.

[RELATED: Shooting guards to watch for the Wizards in the NBA Draft]

Gortat, 33, has two years left on his contract worth $26 million. He is due $12.8 million in 2017-18. He played in all 82 games this past season and averaged 10.8 points and 10.4 rebounds.

Mahinmi was signed to a four-year, $64 million contract last offseason and spent most of the 2016-17 campaign dealing with injuries. But when healthy, he rarely played with Gortat given their similar styles. Once Mahinmi returned from injury in February, Gortat's minutes were pared down.

Given the two will make close to $30 million combined next season and aren't good fits to play on the floor together, it would not be surprising if the Wizards made a move with one or the other.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wiz are thinking big with Paul George]

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Bobby Portis replacing Thomas Bryant in starting lineup, Scott Brooks announces

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Bobby Portis replacing Thomas Bryant in starting lineup, Scott Brooks announces

The Wizards' starting five is gonna look a little different Saturday night. 

Bobby Portis will replace Thomas Bryant as Washington's starting center against the Pacers, head coach Scott Brooks told reporters before the game. 

Per Brooks, the Wizards want to "see what we have" in Portis, who will be a restriced free agent this summer. 

With his team having lost eight of their last 11, this tweak signals Brooks will be looking to switch it up as the Wizards' playoff hopes begin to dim. Washington sits four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Portis, who came over from the Bulls in the Otto Porter trade, has averaged 17.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in five contests since joining the Wizards. He's been particularly lethal from beyond the arc, knocking down 50 percent of his three-point attempts.

Bryant has filled in admirably as the starting center this season with Dwight Howard dealing with a back injury. In 49 games (43 starts), he's averaged 9.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. 

For the Pacers, center Myles Turner has been officially ruled out of Saturday's game with a hip injury. 

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Reeling Wizards hope to shift momentum in playoff race as they host red-hot Pacers

Reeling Wizards hope to shift momentum in playoff race as they host red-hot Pacers

The Wizards' playoff hopes just keep taking hits. Washington fell on Friday night in their first game back from the All-Star break, making that eight losses in 11 games. Meanwhile, the eighth-seed Pistons won, pushing the Wizards to four games back from a playoff spot.

With 23 games remaining in their season, the odds are increasingly stacked against the Wizards making the playoffs, a goal they maintain despite the injuries that have plagued them so far. 

Basketball-Reference.com handicaps postseason chances and the Wizards currently hold a higher likelihood of winning the draft lottery (7%) than they did making the playoffs (4.8%). 

If teams maintain their current course for the remainder of the regular season, the threshold to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference should fall somewhere close to 39 wins. The Pistons are on pace for 38.8 wins as they sit in the final spot.

At 24-35, the Wizards need to go 15-8 from here on out to get to 39. That's a .652 win percentage. Basically, the Wizards would have to play at a 53-win pace for more than a quarter of a season.

For a team that has shown no signs recently of going on an extended run, that seems highly unlikely. For it to happen, they would need a sudden defensive overhaul.

Their offense, even in this 11-game skid, has been fine. During this stretch, they have been third in the NBA in points per game (118.8), second in field goal percentage (49) and eighth in offensive rating (114).

The defense has been an unmitigated disaster. They have surrendered more points than any team (123.4) and the highest field goal percentage (49.5) and three-point percentage (42). 

The Wizards found salary cap relief in their deals before the trade deadline, but didn't add much in the way of a defensive upgrade. 

Jabari Parker is known for his scoring and made headlines earlier this year about how teams don't pay players for defense. Bobby Portis, though a capable rebounder, doesn't block a good deal of shots. 

Looking at their current roster, it's hard to see where the defensive upgrade will come from. Guys like Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza can't stop teams on their own.

The Wizards did not get off to a good start after the All-Star break with their loss to the Hornets, but will get another chance quickly as they host the Indiana Pacers for a 7 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington.

The Pacers, who hold the No. 3 seed in the East at the moment, charge in having won seven of their last eight games. Technically, it represents an opportunity for the Wizards to punch back against a playoff team, though they will take a win against anyone at this point.

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