Gortat averaged 10.8 points and 10.4 rebounds during the regular season and 8.1 points and 11.2 rebounds during the playoffs, including six points and 11 rebounds in the Wizards’ Game 7 loss Monday in Boston. The big man expressed frustration over the Wizards’ inability to reach the third round yet again, but he mainly spoke about his “underappreciated” position as a true center in a league in which the position is evolving.
“At the end of the season I just went through short statistics with our medical staff,” Gortat said. “I had 103 games this year; I haven’t missed even one game. I had 103 games; I didn’t miss even one practice or shoot-around. On top of that, I’m the oldest guy on the team, the most experienced guy on the team. So I think this is a huge achievement for me, personally. To be available for every game is a huge thing in the NBA. But at the end of the day, finishing the regular season with a double-double, averaging double-double as one of the 14, 15 guys in the league is huge also. I take a lot of pride in what I do, and obviously this year was completely different for me than the last three years. With the Wizards’ new system, completely different position in the team for me personally, and different role for me also. It made me who I am today, and as long as we’re winning, we’re going to playoffs and we’re winning in playoffs, then fine.
“But — I think it’s too early for me to say something. I’m just going to sit down in the summer and talk to my agent, talk to my people and I’m going to analyze if this is the right fit. Winning is the most important, at the end of the day. But right now, I had an average, maybe good season. The team had a great season — we went to the second round. I think everybody would like to take that result around the NBA.”
Gortat has two years left on a five-year, $60 million deal he signed in 2014. The 33-year-old center mentioned that his backup, Ian Mahinmi, who is three years his junior, was signed to a four-year, $64 million contract last summer.
“I know how this business works,” Gortat said. “I’m the oldest guy on the team, they signed Ian, also, he’s younger than me, he got a longer contract. I just know how the business works, so I’m prepared for everything, just in case.”
When asked about his older frontcourt — in addition to Gortat and Mahimi, backup big man Jason Smith is 31 — especially in comparison to a backcourt of 20-somethings, Wizards Coach Scott Brooks didn’t express any concern for the 2017-18 season. He pointed out that big men can have longer playing careers and complimented Gortat in particular on his professionalism and efforts to keep himself in game shape.
Those are the virtues Gortat wishes Wizards’ fans would appreciate more, instead of focusing on his scoring.
“Somebody has to take sacrifices on this team,” Gortat said. “We can’t have five guys scoring every game 20 points, it’s impossible. Nobody can do that. That’s why somebody has to be responsible for collecting rebounds and setting screens, and somebody else got to score. That’s how it is on this team, and I feel like this year it was me who was doing a lot of the sacrifices, and I got one of the most underappreciated positions in the NBA. … I know there’s a lot of freaking idiots looking down the columns for the points telling me that, ‘you only score four or six points, team lost because of you,’ that’s how it is, that’s how people picture that. But people that know basketball, they know what I bring to the table.”