The Wizards and Marcin Gortat agreed to a five-year contract worth $60 million Tuesday that will keep the 6-foot-11 center in Washington. Gortat is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, having helped lead the Wizards to the Eastern Conference semifinals. But is it wise to invest this much cash in the 30-year-old?
In his first season in Washington, Gortat meshed well with Nene and the Wizards’ promising young backcourt. The past four years, he’s averaged 12.4 points and 8.9 rebounds, and in 2013-14 he ranked 12th in the NBA with 37 double doubles. What would the Wizards have done if they didn’t re-sign “The Polish Hammer”? There aren’t many other options at center in free agency. The Wizards could have gone after former Georgetown big man Greg Monroe, who is younger (24)but at best only marginally more talented than Gortat. Sticking with the known quantity is the safe move.
The $12 million per year Gortat is getting doesn’t look so bad when you see that his salary next year is comparable to players like Andrea Bargnani, JaVale McGee and Nikola Pekovic. But he’s also making about the same as Serge Ibaka and Joakim Noah. It appears the going rate for any starting center — no matter how good — is around $12 million. But why overpay for Gortat because Minnesota overpaid to keep Pekovic? Gortat had a few memorable playoff games against the Pacers (31 points and 16 rebounds in Game 5), but let’s not forget he had six points combined in Games 3 and 4 and lost fourth-quarter minutes to Drew Gooden.
The value of Gortat’s contract isn’t as daunting as its length. In five years, Gortat will be 35. The only two power forwards or centers older than 33 to average double digits in points last season were Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan. And sorry Wizards fans, but Gortat is not Dirk Nowitzki or Tim Duncan. Washington’s big man has played only seven seasons in the league and appears to take good care of his body, but it’s probably safe to say he’s not going to be playing up to his $12 million-per-year contract in the last two or three years of this deal — which will hurt the Wizards’ ability in the future to add and re-sign players.