Wizards get Gortat from Suns for Okafor, pick
The Washington Wizards, trying to strengthen their hand for a playoff push in the Eastern Conference, have reached a deal for center Marcin Gortat from the Phoenix Suns.
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 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."
Gortat, in a series of tweets Friday, said he had no hard feelings toward the Suns and wasn't surprised a deal happened.
I wanna say i dont have any hard feelings towards Suns front office people.Ryan is an amazing GM.He put them back on the right track.— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) October 25, 2013
I knew its gonna happen so Im glad it happened now not in mid season.! Its still hard to leave such a great city.— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) October 25, 2013
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 its 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."
The Suns are in talks with Bledsoe -- their big July acquisition -- on a contract extension before next week's Halloween deadline. That deal is expected to establish the guard as one of the team's new cornerstones. There is a growing expectation in the league that McDonough ultimately will 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.
Information from ESPN college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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