ESPN The Washington Wizards, trying to strengthen their hand for a playoff push in the Eastern Conference, have acquired center Marcin Gortat from the Phoenix Suns in a five-player deal reached Friday.The trade sends Gortat and guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall to the Wizards for the expiring contract of veteran big man Emeka Okafor and a protected 2014 first-round pick (to No. 12). The 6-foot-11 Gortat, 29, averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season for the Suns. The move immediately gives Washington more of a scoring center to go with its prized starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, as well as a healthy starting center after losing Okafor indefinitely to a herniated disk in his neck. Gortat’s arrival also allows the Wizards — who could have as much as $16 million in salary-cap space next summer — to move Nene to his preferred position at power forward. In a news release announcing the deal, Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld referred to Gortat as a “very consistent and productive inside presence” who “pushes us further toward our goal of becoming a playoff team.” Okafor, the 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year, arrived in Washington before last season in a trade from New Orleans. The Suns, meanwhile, continue to position themselves for a total reboot under new general manager Ryan McDonough. The first-round pick acquired from the Wizards, if it falls outside of the top 12, would give Phoenix as many as four first-rounders to work with in the much-anticipated 2014 NBA draft. Phoenix also holds the Timberwolves’ first-round pick (top-13 protected) and the Pacers’ first-round pick (top-14 protected), as well as their own selection. “We are excited to add another first-round pick in what is shaping up to be the best draft in a decade,” McDonough said. “We now have a chance to make four first-round selections in 2014. Emeka Okafor is a solid veteran center who will help solidify our front line when and if he is able to return from injury.” Marshall was the 13th overall choice in the 2012 draft, but the Suns had a glut of guards, including Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. The Suns are in talks with Bledsoe — their big July acquisition — on a contract extension before next week’s Halloween deadline that is expected to establish the guard as one of the team’s new cornerstones. There is a growing expectation in the league that McDonough will ultimately look to move well-regarded point guard Dragic in a Gortat-style deal for more assets. The Wizards will waive Marshall, Brown and Lee to cut their roster down to the league-maximum 15 players in time for opening night, sources told ESPN.
I absolutely love this trade for the Washington Wizards, who I thought had a chance to be very good this season and predicted would be a playoff team in a deep Eastern Conference, but thought they were dealt a devastating blow when they lost big man Emeka Okafor for several months and had been hoping they would make a move like this trade to sure up their front court. Acquiring a big man who can score like Gortat is an upgrade over Okafor offensively, and I think his ability to play center fits in great with this Wizards team, as Nene and Okafor were playing out of position at center. The Wizards will be a playoff team in the East this season, provided they stay healthy, led by the exciting young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
The trade makes a lot of sense for the Suns too, who are in rebuilding mode, and got rid of many players who were not going to be a part of their future in Phoenix while acquiring another first round pick in what some scouts are calling the deepest draft class in a decade. The Suns will now have multiple picks to manipulate the 2014 Draft, and will have a chance at drafting Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and many of the other top young talents who will be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft.
The big loser of this trade is, of course Emeka Okafor, who is sidelined with a herniated disc and was just traded to a team that is tanking the 2013-2014 NBA season. However, this trade makes a lot of sense for both teams involved, and I think this trade will look like a win for each franchise in the future.