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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