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Marcin Gortat again wonders if his time with Wizards is over, but wants to be back

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Marcin Gortat again wonders if his time with Wizards is over, but wants to be back

If Marcin Gortat was doubtful of his future in Washington in previous years, you can imagine how he feels now with just one season left on his contract. With an expiring deal, Gortat now has more trade value in theory. The Wizards have discussed trades involving the veteran center in the past and that process could ramp up this summer.

Following the Wizards' playoff exit in 2017, he wondered if his time with the Wizards was over because the presence of Ian Mahinmi and the evolution of the NBA towards more athletic big men who can play above the rim and stretch the floor.

After their first round loss to the Raptors over the weekend, Gortat shared similar thoughts at the Wizards' locker room cleanout day.

"Last year, I said, 'I'm going to speak to my agent and I'm going to tell him if this is the right fit.' Well, this year it's even more of that stuff because I have the last year of the contract. I know how the league goes," he said.

Gortat says he's prepared for that possibility and is hoping that if he does indeed get dealt, it will not come as a surprise.

"I think if it is the worst-case scenario, I want to be ready. If something's happening, I want to be informed. I don't want to read this little headline on the bottom of ESPN: 'Gortat gets traded.' And I'm finding out from TV," he said. "I would like to know that from my agent. But we'll see."

Gortat, 34, has spent the last five seasons in Washington. He is due to earn $13.6 million in the 2018-19 season.

This past year, he averaged 8.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game. Those were all his lowest in those categories since the 2009-10 season, his third year in the NBA.

With Mahinmi on the roster and healthy, and with head coach Scott Brooks favoring small-ball lineups, playing time dried up for Gortat. He started all 82 games for the Wizards, but did not receive starter's minutes.

His role has clearly diminished, but Gortat wouldn't mind staying in D.C. if that's what the Wizards choose to do.

"I'm the oldest guy on the team. By the passport, the oldest guy. Because for real, [in terms of physical shape] I'm pretty much younger than anybody on this team," he said. "I'm good. I have one more year. I would like to fill out that year here, in Washington, but we'll see what's going to happen."

Gortat has derided small-ball in recent years as someone affected directly by it. Whenever the Wizards go small and put Markieff Morris or Mike Scott at center, that means Gortat spends more time on the bench.

Gortat has spoken at length about the center position changing in the NBA. He knows he is a dying breed as a power-style center without a big vertical leap or outside shot.

Though some have developed the latter over the course of their careers, Gortat believes it's too late for him. He has attempted only 20 three-pointers in his 759 career games.

"I truly believe I'm a solid, good shooter up to 15, 17 feet. But I'm not going to shoot threes. No, I'm not going to do that," Gortat said. "This summer I'm going to work on my tan. I'm going to work on my six-pack. Get my bicep definition a bit better."

Gortat has provided value over the years with his rebounding and ability to set screens as well as anyone in the league. He and point guard John Wall have developed a strong chemistry in the pick-and-roll.

But Wall knows the way the league is going and would like to see the Wizards add a more athletic big man this offseason. If the Wizards were to find one, and it's much easier said than done, Gortat could see his minutes go down even further.

Gortat, though, believes he can still produce playing the style that he does. He pointed to the 2016-17 season, when he averaged a career-high 10.4 rebounds.

"I have a lot left in my tank. I have one more year contract here and I want to come back to be the guy that I was last year. And I'm hoping that I get this opportunity," he said.

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Wizards notebook: Backing Bradley Beal; Downhill for Decker

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Wizards notebook: Backing Bradley Beal; Downhill for Decker

Back to back Beal?

Losing rarely leads to awards. The Wizards lost Monday in Indianapolis, 109-101. They also rallied from 25 points down to pull within one at 98-97 with 4:45 remaining. The comeback against the Pacers occurred with no John Wall (ankle) from the start and sans Otto Porter (knee contusion) after the opening seven minutes.

Lineups included a player making his Washington debut, combinations rarely used and a scoring Kelly Oubre, who shined for the locals with 23 points in one of his more controlled performances.

They also included the newly minted Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Bradley Beal’s work Monday puts him in line for a repeat performance especially from those that consider leadership in the equation. Beal finished with 30 points, 19 coming in the second half as he played the final 24 minutes. He wasn’t peak efficiency (10 of 27 field goals, four turnovers), but the All-Star battled when crawling into a hole made sense. Beal had two of his three steals in the fourth quarter and finished 4 of 9 on 3-pointers.

Quick reminder: The Wizards lost for a second consecutive game heading into Wednesday’s clash with the Celtics. 

Pacers center Myles Turner dominated inside with 26 points, 12 rebounds and five emphatic blocks. Ex-Wizard Bojan Bogdanovic had 22 points. All five Indiana starters, none named Victor Oladipo, scored in double figures. 

Like many of Washington's opponents, Indiana knocked down shots from deep (10 of 20 from beyond the arc). The Pacers, tops in scoring defense, held the Wizards to 8 of 23 (34.8 percent) from the field in the fourth. 

Tired legs and minds hurt the cause late, but the shorthanded Wizards fought back. This isn’t amateur hour so simply trying doesn’t deserve praise. That the Wizards struggled in that area for chunks of this season makes such performances worth noting, as does the team following Beal’s lead. Keep this up, but pick up wins -- three games this week against the Celtics, at Nets, vs. Lakers -- and perhaps Beal earns another award.

Dekker hustle

It’s also downhill from here for the newest Wizard. Seriously, Sam Dekker, what’s the encore after the team goes on a 19-0 run after you enter for the first time in a Washington uniform?

The 6-foot-9 forward only finished with two points. We don’t take plus-minus seriously most games so that plus-20 is more oddity than reality of the situation. Still, we received a sneak peek at what Dekker could offer going forward once he learns the system, his teammates and gets back into game shape. This marked his first game action since suffering an ankle injury Nov. 5.

Dekker, who added two steals, runs the court with ease and offers energy from the forward position. It’s conceivable he falls outside the rotation most nights when all are available. Then again, if the former University of Wisconsin keeps running the court, his play might eventually badger head coach Scott Brooks into finding him minutes.

 Where art thou Okaro White?

Word came Monday morning that Wall would not face Indiana. Seeing as he acknowledged giving it a go in Saturday’s loss at Cleveland was probably a mistake considering his overall physical condition, cool. 

Around the same time, we found out that rookie swingman Troy Brown Jr. and forward Okaro White would remain with the Capital City Go-Go. The G-League squad plays in Arizona Tuesday.

That meant the Wizards would only have 10 active players in Indiana, a group including Sam Dekker, who only officially joined the team over the weekend. Reminder: Dwight Howard remains sidelined and the 15th roster spot sits empty. 

Perfect world Washington might not use more than nine players in a game so no whoop. As observers of this team know, there’s no such thing as a perfect world this season.

Sure enough, foul trouble struck Tomas Satoransky and Markieff Morris early, as did Porter’s injury. Other than Dekker’s 10 minutes and seven from Ian Mahinmi, Washington effectively used a seven-man rotation.

Nobody would dare suggest having Brown, White or either of their two-way players (Devin Robinson, Jordan McRae) available changes Monday’s result. Brooks might have bypassed all especially the kids. The G-League exists to offer players like Brown and Robinson a place to get in on-court work. It’s also how a team supplements its roster when needed. 

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Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night

Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night

The Washington Wizards lost to the Indiana Pacers 109-101 on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Another loss: The Wizards just can't seem to put together a full, 48-minute performance, a collective effort good enough to beat a team that isn't among the worst in basketball. On Monday, they saw a Pacers team that despite missing Victor Oladipo is still very good, and they fell short of what could have been an epic comeback.

The Wizards stormed back from down 25 points, only to collapse in the final minute and get outscored 11-4 to close the game. The final result was another loss, their second straight. They are 11-16 on the year with the Boston Celtics up next on Wednesday.

The defeat spoiled another big night from Bradley Beal. He had 30 points, the fourth straight game he's dropped 27 or more. 

2. Otto went down: The Wizards found themselves in a tough situation on Monday with only nine available players after Otto Porter Jr. left in the first half with a right knee contusion. John Wall and Dwight Howard were already out, meaning the Wizards were down three starters. Markieff Morris then got into early foul trouble, giving head coach Scott Brooks a real dilemma.

Though Porter's injury doesn't seem serious, the Wizards can ill-afford losing anyone right now. It's worth a reminder that, as bad as the Wizards have started this season, they have done so with few injuries to blame.

3. Oubre came through: Not long after Porter went down, Kelly Oubre Jr. stepped in to fill the void. He had one of his best games of the season with 23 points, five rebounds, three steals, and a block.

Oubre shot poorly against the Cavs on Saturday, but overall he has been playing very well lately. This was the fourth straight game he's reached double figures and the third time in that stretch he's scored 19 or more.

In addition to scoring, Oubre did a lot of the things Brooks wants him to do. He drew an offensive foul, brought down two offensive rebounds and forced a few turnovers. Oubre's best attribute is his length and his ability to cause havoc defensively, especially off the ball. He came into this game sixth in the NBA in total deflections and second in deflections per 36 minutes.

4. Dekker debuted: The lack of options for Brooks detailed above and the lopsided score at least brought one positive and that was the debut of Dekker, who checked in with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter. 

Dekker actually played fairly well considering the circumstances and happened to help key a nice little run for the Wizards. Washington closed the third quarter on a 13-0 run once he came in. On one play during that stretch, Dekker got a steal and then finished with a dunk on the other end.

The run with Dekker on the floor extended to 19-0 in the fourth quarter and kept the Wizards within striking distance the rest of the game. Maybe Dekker was the missing piece all along.

5. Turner is good: For the second straight game, the Wizards had no answer for an opposing big man. Last game it was Tristan Thompson, this time it was Myles Turner. 

Turner had a huge first half on the defensive end and found his scoring groove in the second half. He had a monster stat-line of 26 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.

The strategy for opposing teams at the moment appears to be to attack the Wizards in the middle, knowing they are just trying to make do with Thomas Bryant and a collection of small-ball fives. Teams may keep doing that until the Wizards stop them.

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