Posted October 28, 2013

Suns to send Marcin Gortat to Wizards in exchange for Emeka Okafor

Emeka Okafor, Kendall Marshall, Malcolm Lee, Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns, Rob Mahoney, Shannon Brown, Washington Wizards
Marcin Gortat and Emeka Okafor are trading uniforms. (Doug Pensinger and Fernando Medina/Getty Images)

Marcin Gortat and Emeka Okafor are trading uniforms. (Doug Pensinger and Fernando Medina/Getty Images)

The Wizards have agreed to a preseason move to address Emeka Okafor’s indefinite absence, per a report from ESPN.com. As confirmed by Yahoo! Sports, Washington plans to send Okafor and a top-12-protected 2014 first-round pick to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall.

The interests in play here are obvious. The rebooted Suns had little use for a 29-year-old center on an expiring contract, and thus flipped Gortat to a team with different interests in exchange for a useful draft pick. Even if the Wizards’ pick isn’t conveyed this season, the choice is a solid asset to score considering the fairly dry market for expiring contracts.

“We are excited to add another first-round pick in what is shaping up to be the best draft in a decade,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said in a statement. “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.”

In total, that brings Phoenix’s stockpile of acquired picks to three, after McDonough landed two lottery-protected first-rounders — one from Indiana as part of the Luis Scola deal and another by acting as a facilitator in a three-way trade — in other summer transactions. At worst, they’ve dealt one expiring contract for another while picking up a first-round pick in the process. At best, they’ve traded in one immediate trade chip for a delayed one, as there might well be a market for Okafor’s services once he’s able to recover from a neck injury.

Okafor was diagnosed with a herniated disk in mid-September — a nasty, lingering injury that was set to sideline the 30-year-old center indefinitely. That uncertain timeline didn’t bode well for the Wizards, a team of playoff hopefuls light on rotation-caliber big men. Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker or Jan Vesely would otherwise have been stretched to fill more minutes than they deserve, leaving an overmatched Nene — who is himself a bit dinged up — to anchor the front line alone. Swapping out Okafor for Gortat alleviates that strain, nudging all of Washington’s bigs into more comfortable roles.

Gortat is a solid get for Washington, and worthy of this kind of exchange considering the Wizards’ immediate goals. That they gave up a future first-round pick to acquire a good, starting-caliber center speaks volumes. Washington is unequivocally gunning for its first playoff berth since 2008, and though Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld hedged his bet with the pick’s top-12 protection, he’s clearly willing to forfeit a moderate future asset in order to position his team to compete in the present. Gortat certainly helps in that regard, as his flexible pick-and-roll work and functional post-ups will help flesh out Washington’s clunky offense. It’s a move made with Gortat’s all-around stability as a player in mind, and an upgrade in simplest terms.

But that’s where the Wizards’ interests in this deal end, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post. Brown, Lee and Marshall were included to help balance out the finances of the trade to make it legal (though Lee, with a salary of just $884,293, was an optional piece), but the newspaper notes that none of the three are “expected to stick around in D.C.” With that, the Wizards could forward any of the three to another franchise, either in exchange for other talent or possible financial savings. Washington isn’t necessarily in a position where it needs to cut salary, but a deal to shed either Brown or Marshall could give the Wiz more room to operate under the luxury-tax threshold.

Regardless, Washington’s roster now stands at 18 — three more than the maximum.

12 comments
Flgtwn
Flgtwn

gortat is weak the suns needed to get rid of him. The polish hammer? Why right, more like the polish meatball, the dude is soft!

e23plumer
e23plumer

great trade for Wizards. Playoffs look likely and they still have cap space to sign a max contract player next year or re-sign Gortat and others and Wiz know they need to make playoffs and show progress  in order to attract max player

ScootsRick
ScootsRick

The NBA draft is so incredibly overrated by some people. Look at the past few drafts, and look at how many awful players have been selected. 60 guys are picked, and I'd say that, on average, only maybe 10-15 of them end up being at least rotation players. Yes, there are some exceptions, like 2003 and 2008, but the NBA draft is generally awful.

KidHorn
KidHorn

The wiz are basically trading a 1st round pick, in an unusually deep draft, for an old middling center so they can hopefully lose in the 1st round of the playoffs. Any wonder why they are perpetually one of the worst teams.

SirHacksaw
SirHacksaw

now the suns can get more draft picks, to get "studs" like kendall marshall, who they can flip the next year as a throw in to get another "stud" in the draft.  i'm not saying kendall marshall was actually ever a stud, i'm just saying, i wouldn't get to hyped up about the suns draft picks, although they look like they'll lose a lot of games

salvaje50
salvaje50

Both this Wiz pick and the T-Wolves pick that the Suns now have have top 12 protection this year. So before you Suns fans start counting your lottery balls for Wiggins, remember that the only lottery pick that you will probably have is your own. The other pick is the Pacers and that will be at the bottom.

M20
M20

@ScootsRick You realize your assessment is impossible, right? Each NBA team has about 10 rotation players, so if the draft only produces 10-15 rotation players per year, it would take 20-30 years' worth of drafts to fill all the rosters in the NBA. Given that there aren't any 20-30 year veterans in the NBA, you're clearly wrong. You'd be hard pressed to find a single year when there were only 10 rotation players in the draft.

FirstLast
FirstLast

@KidHorn Most mid first round picks are not as good as Gortat.  Even in a deep draft it is unlikely they would receive a player of Gortat's caliber in the draft.  And even if they did get a steal, it is unlikely that a rookie would help push them into contention.  The Wizards should be a playoff team this year and they already have plenty of talented young players.  Getting a vet to round up the lineup is no tragedy.

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

@salvaje50 Even still, four picks in the first round of that draft is gonna be huge. So much talent! I'm happy for Phoenix - they could use some good, young talent.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@FirstLast @KidHorn 

It's very unlikely this protected pick will be better than Gortat, and that will take a few years.