Earlier today, the Wizards made a move and the Suns made a move that made sense for both parties involved.
The Wizards sent veteran center Emeka Okafor and a a protected 2014 first-round pick to the Suns in exchange for the services of Marcin Gortat and three other players (Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall, and Malcolm Lee) who will likely be cut. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Jeff Goodman.
The Washington Wizards are a team who hope to contend for a playoff seed in the Eastern Conference this year. All the pieces were in place; a rising star in John Wall, an improving guard in Bradley Beal, a small forward rotation with veteran Trevor Ariza, three point marksman Martell Webster, and rookie Otto Porter. All they needed was some stability up front, stability that they had been unable to find for the past few seasons. It seemed those pieces were in place for this season with Nene and Emeka Okafor both healthy and ready to play.
Then, in typical Wizards fashion, someone got hurt. Emeka Okafor injured his neck of all things and suddenly the Wizards were looking at the likes of Al Harrington, Jan Vesely, and Kevin Seraphin to step up and play quality minutes on this Wizards front line.
The way I see it, the Wizards had no choice. If they still had any hopes of making the playoffs, a move had to be made.
So the Wizards did that, trading expiring contract for expiring contract and taking a rental in the big man Gortat.
So why does this make sense for both teams?
For the Suns, this is a team rebuilding and a team Marcin Gortat wasn't going to return to next season. Instead of hanging on to Gortat and likely lossing him after the season they decided to swap him for another expiring contract in Emeka Okafor (that they can buy out) and get another first round pick (that is protected) in a loaded draft coming up this summer.
The Suns now have four first round picks in the upcoming draft and have increased their chances of landing a potential superstar in Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or others to pair with the future of the Suns in Alex Len and Eric Bledsoe.
For the Wizards, something tells me that the front office knew something that we didn't about Emeka Okafor and I suspect that something isn't good. As in, Emeka Okafor was going to miss a lot of games this year. Instead of hoping and praying that Harrington, Vesely, and Seraphin could step up, and expecting Nene to play center, GM Ernie Grunfeld went out and got his reliable center in Marcin Gortat.
Gortat does a couple things for the Wizards:
- Provides a real and reliable pick and roll partner for John Wall. Examples 1, 2, 3.
- Allows Nene to play his true position at PF.
- Keeps Vesely, Seraphin, and Harrington out of the starting lineup.
- An overall upgrade on the offensive end.
nene/gortat...I like that!!!!!— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) October 25, 2013
Now, everyone stay healthy. Looking at you, entire Wizards roster.