As one of the first free agents to agree to terms, Marcin Gortat doesn’t have much to worry about until Thursday, when he puts his pen to a five-year, $60-million contract with the Wizards.
Gortat has been relaxing in Orlando for the past few days and decided to watch some summer league basketball at his old stomping grounds at Amway Arena. While checking out the action, Gortat decided to sit down with NBA TV for an interview and offered his first comments since deciding to return to Washington.
“A lot of different reasons,” Gortat said, when asked why he elected to stay with the Wizards. “First of all, I like the city. I like the team. I definitely feel comfortable over there. The team really took me under the wing and they help me since the day one. I definitely love the chemistry between me and John Wall. I think Bradley Beal is going to be a great player one day. Coach Randy [Wittman] believes in me, and I have a great relationship with him. So, the decision was real easy for me. I believe that we will be a special team for the next four or five years.”
Gortat was asked about interest from the Miami Heat and bobbed his head side to side, “We had a few teams, but I don’t think it [makes] any sense to talk about that now.”
The Wizards made retaining Gortat the top priority and are in a holding pattern as it relates to Trevor Ariza, who is waiting for Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James to make a decision before teams can focus on him.
Ariza is considered a backup plan for several teams, but he would be considered another piece to assist the Heat. Yahoo Sports reported that Heat President Pat Riley met with Ariza last Thursday in Los Angeles. Gortat lobbied for Ariza to come back.
“Trevor is a big part of our success, and we’d like to have him back,” Gortat said. “I understand at the end of the day, it’s a business and he has to make the right decision for him and for his family. But we love him, we want him back and I believe that Ernie [Grunfeld] and Tommy Sheppard is going to do the right thing.”
The Wizards have focused on continuity this offseason, beginning with bringing back Wittman as coach. Gortat is confident that the Wizards are headed in the right direction after coming within two wins of the Eastern Conference finals.
“Obviously, Nene has to stay healthy and he got to make sure he’s going to take care of his body,” Gortat said. “We got to make sure we’re going to limit his minutes, to be consistent, to be good for us, productive, but to at some point limit his minutes to make sure that we don’t overload the guy, but 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, so we believe next year at the same time we might be much better team. Obviously, John and Brad is going to develop. Otto Porter is going to develop. I’m going to have a better chemistry with the team. Other guys will have a better chemistry. Also, we believe we’re going to have a good free agency player joining us and helping us.”