WASHINGTON — Center Marcin Gortat agreed to a $60 million, five-year contract Tuesday to remain with the Washington Wizards, according to a person familiar with the deal, a major step in the team’s quest to keep the roster intact as much as reasonably possible following the end of a playoff drought.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be signed until July 10 under NBA free agency rules.
Gortat follows coach Randy Wittman, who was given a contract extension last month, and backup point guard Andre Miller, whose contract was guaranteed for another season on Saturday, as the third piece in team president Ernie Grunfeld’s quest to retain the key contributors who took Washington to the postseason for the first time since 2008. [tweet https://twitter.com/MGortat/status/484129760436420609 align=’center’]
Acquired for a first-round draft pick and injured center Emeka Okafor as part of a five-player trade with the Phoenix Suns just before the start of the regular season, Gortat gave the Wizards a much-needed stronger presence in the paint to complement the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal while taking some of the frontcourt load from power forward Nene.
The 30-year-old “Polish Hammer” – the only player from Poland in the NBA – averaged 13.2 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds, missed only one game and became a vocal locker-room leader. He was in the final year of his contract and became a free agent Tuesday, but he had made it clear he wanted to return to the Wizards this season.
The next priority for the Wizards is small forward Trevor Ariza, the team’s best 3-point shooter and best defender. Ariza also is expected to attract several suitors as a free agent, but his teammates are doing everything they can to get the 29-year-old to stick around. [tweet https://twitter.com/John_Wall/status/484126507015483392 align=’center’]
Photo via USA Today Sports Images/Brian Spurlock