What should the Phoenix Suns do with Marcin Gortat?


The Phoenix Suns should trade Marcin Gortat at peak value if they don't find value in offering him a hefty extension in two years when he's 30. (AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani)

The Phoenix Suns should trade Marcin Gortat at peak value if they don’t find value in offering him a hefty extension in two years when he’s 30. (AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani)

For the first time in eight seasons, Steve Nash is no longer the face of the Phoenix Suns franchise, nor is he the sun, moon and stars of it either.

For my money, that new face is Marcin Gortat, which is to say the Suns lack a franchise player.

That’s no knock on Marcin. The guy will get you 15-10 with a block or two every night. He’s an agile top-10 center who thrives as a roll man and can hit both a jumper and the boards.

He’s just no franchise center.

It sure seems like a cruel fate for this organization to finally develop a superb five man that could have pushed the team over the hump once the rest of the roster was lacking enough for it to really matter.

Gortat is an excellent player, but he’s no better than the third-best guy on a championship team if not the fourth in this era of Big Threes and Fours. He will be 30 years old entering the summer of 2014 when he will be coming off a deal signed at the full mid-level exception that seemed like an overpay at the time but turned into a supreme bargain.

For the next two seasons the Suns will be getting a steal by paying Gortat only $7.26 million this year and $7.73 mil the following season, but after that Marcin will want to get paid.

Speculating two years into the future is always dicey, but if Gortat maintains his current level of play I could see him getting something around four years and $48 million, at least. If the Suns were contending it would be a no-brainer to pay him what he’s worth, but that’s an awful lot of coin for a 30-year-old center who relies on his athleticism.

Personally I’m not too worried that Gortat was assisted on four out of five baskets because I feel like Goran Dragic will get him open looks as well, but based on his age and where the Suns are in their rebuilding process it’s worth wondering whether they would be better off trading him in the coming years.

The biggest reason to do so is because he would be their most valuable player on the open market. An athletic center on a two-year deal for about $15 mil total who is as skilled as Gortat should possess incredible trade value.

If the Suns were to go into Charlotte mode, moving Gortat would be an obvious move to make, yet because of their resistance to tanking it could be a tough sell. Many people expect the Suns to finish at the bottom of the West anyway, and without Gortat that would be a near certainty.

We can debate the merits of that another day since this team so badly needs the kind of true franchise star that’s often only found at the top of a draft, but with the franchise trying to stay competitive while rebuilding trading Gortat seems to be counter of that goal.

This past summer or around this draft could have been an ideal time to make such a move, especially to a team like Houston that was so desperate for a quality center and possessed so many young assets, but at this point I think this is a move the Suns should consider making next offseason.

Go ahead and play this season out, and if the team is as bad as many people think then they won’t have to “try” to tank to end up at the top of the draft.

If that happens, Gortat on an expiring contract and the veteran Luis Scola should become major trade bait when the Suns embark on their second summer of rebuilding.

Another option would be for the team to make a big splash next offseason by pulling the trigger on another restricted free agent, but this time follow it through by executing a sign-and-trade. The Suns were not interested in doing a Gordon sign-and-trade because they saw it as taking one step forward only by taking one step back, but perhaps at that point they will possess the assets to consummate a deal for a stud that makes sense.

At that point they could go over the cap to re-sign Gortat the following summer with his Bird Rights, so perhaps a future starting lineup of Dragic-Star Free Agent X-Beasley-Morris-Gortat is the way to go.

If you believe in that core, then a slight overpay for an aging Gortat would be palatable, it’s just not as attractive if the Suns wait until 2014 to make their big free agent splash.

The Phoenix Suns know as well as anybody that a quality center is tough to find, and Gortat is certainly a very good one.

With the Polish Hammer still under contract for two more seasons, the Suns have plenty of time to think about this, but now is the time to start determining whether they see him wearing purple and orange at a hefty raise past this contract or whether the franchise would be better off turning him into choice assets or making him the centerpiece of a deal for a stud.

As difficult as it is to trade a legitimate center, the Suns must weigh whether Gortat’s projected production after 30 at a sizable price makes sense in their rebuilding plan when his trade value is presumably so high.

Current, former Suns dot middle range of #NBARank

A pair of key Suns reserves were revealed today on #NBARank, with Shannon Brown checking in at No. 235 and Markieff Morris No. 238.

In recent days we saw a trio of formers Suns reserves in Michael Redd (No. 243), Josh Childress (No. 249) and Hakim Warrick (No. 272).

Rookie Kendall Marshall barely cracked the top 300 with a No. 296 ranking. Don’t worry, he’s not worse than Chilly and Hak, rookies are just always undervalued so he figures to shoot up the ranks next season if he impresses. It is amazing that Childress wound up in the middle of the 500 players yet nobody wanted to take even a minimum amnesty nibble.

Tags: Marcin Gortat

  • Ounin

    Marcin Gortat vs Belgia (15.08.2012) EUROBASKET

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNIiz0hc2eU

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    foreveris2long wait what?

    I’m going to crush your entire post with one gem from the first few lines of your try-hard insulting rant.

    “Hey Rich, what did Gortat average when he was 24?”

    If I may answer that with a question, it will eradicate the rest of your post responding to me.

    Who was Gortat playing behind as a younger player and who was Lopez playing behind at the same age?

    Right. So while one player was behind Superman flashing enough talent that teams offered him contracts that Orlando matched, the other was beh – wait no.. Actually he could have been the starter because – wait what?

    Lopez had the GREEN LIGHT to be the starting center for the Phoenix Suns and he COULD NOT DO IT. Why? Because ROBIN LOPEZ IS BAD AT BASKETBALL.

    Also, OF COURSE the Phoenix front office will say glowing and promising things about Lopez in the hopes – by the god Elliot Perry – that some team would be STUPID enough to pay him so that the they didn’t have to!

    Bottom line is this.

    If ROBIN LOPEZ were good at basketball, 1) That trade that brought Gortat to the valley would have never brought Gortat to the valley and 2) Lopez would still be on the team.

    He’s absolutely terrible and an utter train wreck in Gentry’s system.

    HOW MANY YEARS DOES IT TAKE FOR A BIG MAN TO LEARN HOW TO PIVOT AND DIVE OFF A PICK AND ROLL SCREEN WHILE PLAYING WITH ONE OF THE, IF NOT THE GREATEST PICK AND ROLL GUARD OF ALL TIME?!?

    to this day Lopez STILL can’t execute a proper pivot-and-dive off a screen! By the time he gets moving towards the basket the window has been shut, boarded, nailed, sanded, and painted over.

    Also the system in New Orleans is different from Phoenix and they can use whoever they want at the 5 because defensively, they’ve got a potential defensive JUGGERNAUT to play beside them.

    All he has to be as a Hornet is a body. That’s it! Set a screen without having to worry about rolling; move the ball from left to right as that offense shifts. THAT’S IT. That’s why Okafor was there for so long and it’s why Kaman wasn’t needed. He can be a flat-footed sloth down there and it’s okay because it’s fine in THAT SYSTEM.

    And right, as I said above if the Suns can find a young stud at the 5 to mature with the youth of the team THEN fine. Make the adjustment.

    ROBIN LOPEZ was NOT that guy. He will NEVER be that guy.

  • Sillmarillion

    Lol, when I’m reading that Lopez is a better player than Gortat it just makes me laugh. Just look at the numbers, look at the way they run and jump and see the difference, look a the impact Gortat had at the team since he joined and compare it to Lopez. There is no universe in which Lopez is better than Lopez. He is far beneath the Polish Hammer.
    Plus, you should always keep in mind that Gortat was freaking 18 years old when he started to play basketball. EIGHTTEEN!! There’s plenty room for him to develop and just think what kind of a player he would be, if he started to play at the age of 10…
    And Gortat will never stop to improve, cause he is a hard worker and always wants to get better. In an interview he once said: “They pay me 34 million dollars; 4 for my talent, 30 for my hard work.” That’s an attitude!

  • http://none.com Russell

    @complainers …I like how everyone (you know who you are) is complaining about Gortat being not good for a rebuilding team at age 28! LOL

    Can anyone here name one legit Center the Suns have had the last 20-25 years? Anyone ? Gortat is 5 times better then any center in over two decades, and you guys are saying the Suns should trade him? then what?

    Has anyone looked around the league? The NBA is thin on Centers half the Starting Centers in the NBA should be bench players and the other half the list is so thin in quality….Where are you going to get a Center? Howard? Bynum?

    Stop being silly. Center is not a problem on the Suns lack of a 2 guard, lack of a proven at Small forward, and yet to be determined PG, lack of a reliable bench. Trading Gortat accomplishes nothing, now trading Gortat + 3 first round picks + Dudley+ Morris+ Marshall might accomplish something we may get 2 very good players back (think Tyreke Evans or Harden + Josh Smith) but so what? we are still not a ring contender with those two.

  • http://none.com Russell

    Also those who think R.Lopez is anything more then a 15 minute- 17 minute bench player is either dreaming or has no idea what they’re talking about. Lopez is not that guy, don’t ask him to be that guy because when you do you’ll act like it’s a surprise even though you were warned way before.

  • Tony

    Talk about ignorant statements, this one takes the cake: “ROBIN LOPEZ IS BAD AT BASKETBALL.” Besides the obvious stupidity of this comment, the fact that its author felt the need to capitalize every letter only exacerbates the lunacy of the author. This guy conveniently ignores the fact that through much of Lopez’s career thus far, he’s been plagued by injuries. But when he’s been healthy, Lopez has been very effective. In fact, let’s not forget in last season how many times Gentry let Lopez finish games instead of going back to Gortat. It’s a fair point to argue that Lopez’s inability to remain consistently healthy is enough on its own to warrant chosing Gortat over him, but to claim that Lopez is a bad basketball player as proof of Gortat’s superiority, is so childish and completely without merit.

    I don’t want to speak for Foreveris, but what I think he is getting at is not that Gortat isn’t a very good center, but rather, because of the Suns current situation of being a lottery team, that giving up on a much younger center in Lopez, in favor of an older and already in his prime center, Gortat, was a mistake. Assuming this is his point, I agree completely. If the Suns had a roster that could compete to even make the 2nd round of the playoffs, then this would be a completely different situation. If that was the case, then obviously Gortat’s importance to the team would be far greater than Lopez. But the Suns won’t make the 2nd round of the playoffs in the next two years, nor are they likely to even make the playoffs at all in that timespan. As such, by the time the Suns can field a very competitive team again, Gortat will likely be passed his prime or will want a much bigger contract when his current one expires in 2 years. Either way Gortat will probably not be in the Suns long term plans. (Either he’ll be passed his prime and unable to remain a legitimate starting center or, if he continues to play well in these next two years, he will likely demand a much higher contract).

    Moreover, it’s not that Gortat is an old player, in fact, because speed and athletic ability are typically not as important for the center position, age is usually less of a factor for centers compared to other positions. However, because Gortat relies so much on his speed and athletic ability, his age should be a much bigger consideration than a typical 28-year old center. On the offensive end, he has proven thus far to be consistently effective only as a roll man on the p&r. Gortat did show some improvement in the beginning of last season with a quick spin move in the post, but as the season progressed, his effectiveness in the post declined. Furthermore, his mid-range jumper was very inconsistent and similar to his post game, as the season progressed, his consistency in making 10-15 ft jumpers also declined.

    In sum, obviously Gortat is currently a much better player than Lopez, but becausee the Suns are unlikely to make the playoffs in the next two years, because of Gortat’s age, and because the Suns had a much younger center with a higher ceiling, it was a mistake for the FO to give up on Lopez in favor of Gortat.

  • foreveris2long

    Russel you are an idiot assessing Robin Lopez without mentioning when Gorat arrived Lopez was coming off a herniated disc in his back that resulted in him losing 8 inches in his vertical.
    Further it doesn’t matter who Gortat was backing up I just suggested you compare their numbers, points, rebounds, block shots, free throws.
    Your contentions are so flawed it is apparent you know nothing about the game except what you read.

    I am not sure who if anyone said Lopez was better than Gortat today because I do not think he is but I think if he stays healthy he could be and New Orleans will give him the opportunity to expand his game. I suspect this time next year more and more fans will be yelling why didn’t the Suns keep the cheaper and better defender, free throw shooter and low post player Lopez and trade Gortat for a top ten lottery pick which Blanks hinted was available to the Suns this summer.

  • foreveris2long

    Tony, That is exactly what I am saying. Under the totality of circumstances with the Suns being a lottery team for the foreseeable future, they should have held onto to the younger center despite the fact today he is not as good as Gortat. You definitely get it. Lopez was really hurt by the herniated disk in his back and only in the 2nd half did he begin to recover. Thanks for the input man.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Great discussion.

    Schwartz’s post I believe is based around the fact that Marcin Gortat has a ton of value because we all can acknowledge the guy can put up numbers that are far superior to that of Robin Lopez.

    But here’s an argument I think should be pointed out. In this day of NBA ball, it’s not the big men who are getting double-doubles that make franchise centers. It’s players like Andrew Bynum, Perkins and Tyson Chandler who completely change a team’s interior defense. I think that’s where concerns about Gortat being soft are coming from. The offense is just the cherry on top.

    FWIW, Jermaine O’Neal and his creaky knees averaged more blocks than Gortat and in two-thirds of the minutes (on average) last year when he played.

  • gordon

    @Kevin Zimmerman: Gortat averaged more blocks than Chandler, Perkins or Noah. Your point is…?

    @Tony: “In fact, let’s not forget in last season how many times Gentry let Lopez finish games instead of going back to Gortat.”

    Erm… maybe 5 times? Don’t forget how many times (before the all-star break) Gortat had to play full 24 minutes in the 2nd half because Lopez was totally useless.

    And Lopez IS a bad basketball player. He rebounds with one hand, brings the ball down in traffic and gets stripped all the time and commits unnecessary fouls (apparently some people think that fouling = good defense). He’s a low BB IQ player.

    BTW guys, please stop acting like the first 50 games of the season never happened and all that matters is the last 16.

  • http://none.com Russell

    @Gordon, you get A+ for your post, great observation.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    In the EURO qualification Gortat scored 31 points and got 13 rebounds last night. Without Nash.

  • Scott

    Lopez did himself no favors by not putting himself in position to score early and often last season. With Morris on the court at PF, Lopez should have been the option for at-the-basket scoring, with Morris spreading the floor shooting corner 3s.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Gordon,

    I’d be really surprise if any NBA coach would put Marcin Gortat on a list of the best 20 interior defenders — power forward or center. He’s not an imposing figure inside, and my argument is that that weighs a lots (fairly or not) when discussing the greatest centers in the game.

    Maybe the blocks stat isn’t the best. But I guarantee you given the choice to put a big man on a roster built for a championship (let’s say, the Heat of last year), Noah, Perkins and Chandler would go before Gortat.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    You keep forgetting how many charges Gortat is able to ake. Whereas charges don’t look that spectacular like a block imo they are better for the team. The oponent gets a foul, your team gets the ball. After a block the oposing team usually still has the ball and can try to score.

  • Serek

    @Sillmarillion

    The general opinion seems to be that the more burly and brutish the player is, the bigger defensive presence he is. But this can be deceiving. Look no further than RoLo – he has that trait, but is in fact not that good.
    At the same time, taking charges by Gortat was often viewed on this board as a sign of weakness, while in fact it shows finesse, situation awareness, good positioning and crafty use of game rules, which makes up the bball IQ we all love in players.

    The prime example how those skills are underrated in contrast to brute force is how Gortat drew a charge against Griffin last year. Everybody was so over the fact that Griffin “posterized” Gortat, while the reality was that there was no points, he fouled out, got a technical and his team lost, because he was not thinking.
    http://www.nba.com/video/games/clippers/2011/03/20/0021001039_phx_lac_play5.nba/index.html