Marcin Gortat on return Wizards: “The decision was really easy for me”

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Marcin Gortat had options. Teams were calling, including the Miami Heat (although they wanted him to take a steep discount). It’s always nice to be wanted.

But Gortat didn’t want to go anywhere — he wanted to stay in Washington.

Of course, the five-year, $60 million didn’t hurt (okay, that was the primary motivation), but Gortat did want to stay. Gortat was in Orlando to watch the Wizards’ Summer League team and spoke to NBA TV about his decision, as transcribed by J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

“I like the city. I like the team. I definitely feel comfortable over there. The team really took me under their wing and they helped me since Day 1. I love the chemistry between me and John Wall,” said Gortat, who was traded by the Phoenix Suns to Washington less than a week before last season began and signed a fully guaranteed five-year, $60 million deal to stay put. “I think Bradley Beal is going to be a great player one day. Coach Randy (Wittman) believes in me. I have a great relationship with him.

“The decision was really easy for me. We can be a special team for the next four or five years.”

The Wizards plan is to get the band back together from what was the third best team in the East by the end of last season and count on the improvements of John Wall and Bradley Beal to improve (as well as a few smaller moves).

That requires bringing back Trevor Ariza, who has a number of suitors (again including the Heat, who met with him on Saturday). Gortat wants to see him back and thinks the Wizards are poised to do damage in the East.

“Trevor is a big part of our success. We’d like to have him back …. We love him. We want him back. I believe (president) Ernie (Grunfeld) and Tommy Sheppard are going to do the right thing,” Gortat said. “Nene has to stay healthy. You’ve got to make sure he’s going to take care of his body. We got to make sure we limit his minutes to be consistent, to be good for us, productive. Make sure we’re not going to overload the guy.

“We believe we can be a better team next year. We had a lot of guys joining the team in the middle of the season. Me, Drew Gooden, Andre Miller. We believe next year at the same time we’re going to be a much better team.”

In what could be an unpredictable East as free agency still shakes itself out, the Wizards have to like their position.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.