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.