With the Los Angeles Lakers entering the off-season with plenty of cap room, we’re examining potential free agents and their fit with the team. Thus far we have discussed a wing player in Lance Stephenson and a point guard with Kyle Lowry. This week, we shift our attention to the big men and highlight Washington Wizards center, Marcin Gortat.
2013-14 Statistics: 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds
After acquiring Gortat from the Phoenix Suns, the Wizards went all-in trying to reach the playoffs. The addition of Gortat not only made the Wizards better, but his presence accelerated the growth of their young backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Gortat had an impressive year during 2013-14 and was a valuable part of the Wizards playoff run. With the Wizards’ season on the line, Gortat dominated the Pacers for 31 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Wizards in a Game 5 win. Unfortunately, the Wizards season would come to end two days later.
Regardless, Gortat established himself as one of the best big men available in this free agent class and should see a number of offers.
Gortat has earned a reputation as one of the game’s best screeners. His strong frame allows him to set good, hard picks. When the defense has to help out from the screens, Gortat is a skilled roll man and finishes his shots at a high mark. When Gortat played with Steve Nash in Phoenix, he saw his best years in the NBA while shooting above 55 percent.
It remains to be seen if Nash will be healthy enough to contribute for the Lakers, but if the team pairs Gortat with another excellent pick and roll point guard, there will be plenty of opportunities for Gortat to put up points.
Gortat is also good with his back to the basket and is pretty athletic for a guy with his size. In all, Gortat is a solid offensive player that the Lakers could use to meat up their front court.
The addition of Gortat would automatically improve the Lakers’ defense around the rim. He understands where he needs to be and isn’t afraid to contest shots and came up with 1.5 blocks a game. In addition, he often finds himself in perfect position to grab rebounds and limit the other teams’ second chance opportunities.
When asked to defend other big men, Gortat is more than able to making it difficult for them to score. During the second round matchup against the Pacers, he helped in shutting down Roy Hibbert in their two victories. The Laker frontcourt as a whole struggled on defense and could use Gortat down low.
2013-14 Salary: $7,727,280
As one the best big men on the market, Gortat is expected to see a raise. Given his ability to affect the game on both ends and his solid all-around play, he is likely to earn a multi-year deal worth around $10 million a year.
Landing With Lakers Odds: 15 to 1
The Wizards will have to make an interesting decision whether or not they want to keep Gortat. While Gortat has come out and said he would like to remain in Washington, he is getting older and that could be a legitimate concern for teams wanted to commit to him long term.
The Lakers will likely be looking to improve their front court. As it stands, only Robert Sacre is signed on for 2014-15 with the Lakers having to figure out if they want to retain Pau Gasol, Ryan Kelly, Chris Kaman, or Jordan Hill. Even though Gortat would likely stay with the Wizards, the Lakers should at least give Gortat an offer and see if he is willing to listen.
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