A discussion on Marcin Gortat's comments


Michael Schwartz: So Kevin, Marcin Gortat made some inflammatory comments about his role with the Suns and his future that were translated into English on Monday. Should we take what he says at face value?

Kevin Zimmerman: I think you can take it for 80 percent of face value. Translations and all that could make it come across as a little bit more harsh than it might have been, but there’s no doubt he’s frustrated with the offense. Being one of the more outspoken Suns players in the most recent years, hearing that come from him is not surprising, and it’s hard to say that the quote about not being an option for Gentry is any misrepresentation.

Now, I’m guessing Gortat didn’t mean any harm, but there’s no doubt that saying those things isn’t going to sit well with his teammates or his head coach. That’s how he feels and it’s his personality to say things like that, but we welcome you to the beginning of some #SunsDrama.

MS: There is a lot of truth to all of this and none of it is good for a team trying to find that cohesiveness, but a few caveats. First off, this is Gortat. Gentry brushed it off by relying on his favorite cliche: “It is what it is.” To some degree, this is Gortat being Gortat. I also feel like some of the severity of it was definitely lost in translation. That being said, Marcin clearly is not pleased with his role on this team over the past few games. He’s not a focal point in a pick-and-roll system, and the Suns rightly would rather post Scola than him.

Do you think he has a point? Should he be getting more touches or should he be happy to be the top defensive big man who blocks shots and grabs a ton of rebounds? Do you think the Suns should be gearing more of their offensive game plan around him?

KZ: I think to answer this question you’ve got to ask yourself if he’s even a second option, let alone a first option. In my opinion, he’s being utilized just fine as a third or fourth option. There are very few big men worthy of being considered one-on-one post scorers (Andrew Bynum might be it, and Dwight Howard will do just fine on the Lakers in the pick-and-roll game alone) so that’s out the window.

Dulberg pointed out that the number of pick-and-rolls per possession hasn’t dropped off too much from last year. And from a pure playmaking standpoint, Gortat is only a scorer in those situations. Meanwhile, Dragic isn’t the pick-and-roll point guard Nash is, and I’d venture to say he’s more apt to score on those plays than pass (that will give Gortat less touches there).

Last year, Gortat scored 15 a game on a team with very little offense other than the Nash-Gortat pick-and-roll opening it up for others. Now, Phoenix has other playmakers. Simple as that. I’ve very much liked his role thus far and thought that him accepting that would make the team more dangerous defensively and in the rebounding department. Apparently, Gortat doesn’t see it that way.

So now there appears to be a rift in the locker room. From a business standpoint, do you think it’s a good idea to shop him around midseason and see what the market is like?

MS: Right, I was surprised to see only a slightly smaller amount of possessions are ending with a pick-and-roll roll man or ball handler shooting, but keep in mind Synergy only tracks the end result of plays. By the eye test it certainly seems like they aren’t running nearly as many pick-and-rolls overall.

As to your question, I always feel it’s smart to see what you can get for a player, but not to turn it into a Justin Upton scenario whereby you shop him so many times that it makes it seem like you no longer believe in him. I was in favor of shopping Amare to see what was out there, I was in favor of shopping Nash and I definitely will be in favor of shopping Gortat. I laid out my thoughts on Gortat’s situation earlier this season, but to summarize it does not make sense to sign Gortat to a fat extension in two years considering where this team is in the rebuilding process.

If you can turn his below-market contract into some combination of young players and picks, you have to do it. If he’s unhappy with his role, that’s even more true. A player of Gortat’s ability at his salary is incredibly valuable in today’s NBA, and if you wait until the summer then Scola could be included as well. That doesn’t necessarily mean trade him for sure, but see if you can get more value than what he will provide when factoring in the fact that he wants a $60 million extension to pay for downside of his career years that the Suns would be wise not to overpay for.

Now if the Suns do shop Gortat, what would like to see them get in return?

KZ: Joe Kaiser from ESPN Insider must have seen this coming as last week he wrote of five potential trades for Gortat. Two of them are to the Celtics and Thunder, who I doubt would take a risk on a guy like Gortat for a myriad of reasons. Kaiser also has a trade to the Bucks for Tobias Harris, John Henson and Drew Gooden, which is nice aside from the fact Kendall Marshall is thrown in there.

I think Phoenix should avoid giving up any of its young guys while acquiring young players and/or assets. Kaiser has a trade of Gortat to the Trail Blazers for Meyers Leonard (a young prospect), J.J. Hickson (still a guy with promise), and a first-round draft pick with no lottery protection. Freeing cash, getting young players — big men especially — and avoiding anyone taking any of Phoenix’s projects are three obvious things of need.

Getting back to Gortat’s comments, though. What do you think about them? Do you enjoy a player speaking his mind (we rarely get that these days), or do you think this case is going to cause problems in the locker room?

MS: I’m in agreement there. If you can get something like that Portland deal with a lottery pick, a young player and an unprotected pick, you have to do it. Also keep in mind that the Suns are about $6.5 million under the cap so they can provide immediate cap relief for another organization by taking on that additional amount in salary. Regardless of what they do with Gortat, it would behoove the Suns to pick up an asset by taking on an expiring contract from a team that needs to cut salary immediately or possibly becoming a facilitator in a three-team trade at the deadline.

Gortat really is a reporter’s dream. I almost wanted to ask him to take some of the comments back when he thoroughly ripped his new teammates a couple weeks after joining the team after a tough loss against Philly back in late 2010. It’s jarring to hear such candidness in today’s politically correct world in which some foreign players pretend not to speak English after a devastating loss, but Gortat is who he is every second of the day, and he has a bad habit of getting brutally honest after crushing defeats.

I love it. I wish more players wouldn’t hide behind cliches of needing to take things one day at a time, follow the process, and go 110 percent. I wish more players would be more like Gortat and say what they’re thinking. Granted, it was kind of stupid to say this much. It will only serve to tear down the bonds in the locker room and make people wonder where his head is at after the next tough defeat. It comes across as thoroughly selfish, like he’s only playing for himself and wondering if this will impact his next contract, which is exactly what players on losing teams often think about.

All that stuff is really bad, but I would rather hear a player outright say it then to lie about buying into the team and just needing time while their body language on the floor tells another story (cough, Vince Carter).

Now tell me Zim, how do you feel Gentry handled the situation both in his comments and his usage of Gortat thus far?

KZ: Although I don’t agree with Gortat coming out this way, it’s more to do with how silly I believe it is that he thinks he deserves to be the focal point of the offense rather than the complaint itself being aired out. In the same light, the “we would love to throw him the ball and have him post up for us but that hasn’t been one of his strengths, really,” Gentry quote from Dave Dulberg’s piece was brutally honest and quickly affirmed Gentry’s stance. As a whole, I’ll take this over the awkwardness that we saw in the whole Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy talk behind one another’s back in Orlando last year.

And as far as the situation is on the court, I think it’s been fine. Getting Gortat nine shots per game this year is plenty for a traditional big man these days, and this early in the season I find it hard to criticize Gentry. Overall, it’s especially bad for people to think the offensive distribution is a dichotomous decision as simple as choosing Dragic and Beasley over Gortat.

MS: Yes, we can all agree this is much better than the Howard-Van Gundy situation. At least you can’t accuse Gortat of being two-faced like Superman. However, for the Suns to enjoy an overachieving season they need everybody to focus purely on playing team basketball rather than on whether a decrease in touches will impact a contract in a few years. Although I like that this issue is out in the open rather than being something people just speculate about, it’s one more hurdle Gentry and the Suns will need to fight through as they work to get this team back on the winning track.

Tags: Marcin Gortat

  • JD

    Another factor that has taken away from Gortat’s game is the lack of a stretch 4. Since Frye is no longer in the lineup, there is less spacing for Gortat to use his swiftness to score. Maybe if Morris starts shooting more threes again and is used in a lineup with Gortat, it will be more like last year’s team for him.

  • Artur Mascarenhas

    Gortat is right, even though he is lesser of a player than he think he is.

    Gentry is clueless and I don’t like him from day one. People say he is a “player’s coach” which would be good if we had stars on our roster, which is far from true. We need a new system, a new philosophy and a coach that smack some butts in the locker room. Gentry just cant do it. McMillan would be fine, Stan Van Gundy would be fine. But not Gentry. He is more like a Spolestra kinda coach: let the stars do what they have to do and get the hell out of the way.

    Also, Gortat is clearly pissed about Beasley shooting 15 bricks a game and getting all the FO love. I would be pissed too.

    Now, its up to our lame FO to deal with three players that need to get the ball close to the rim to be effective. All good role players, but not with this arrangement.

    Anyway, in the end of the day, its a good thing to get used to a “losing mode”, since there’s no point in playing for a playoff spot right now.

    Let’s tank and rebuild around young “stars”. If Beasley and Dragic are these “stars” I think only time will tell.

  • sun also rises

    Unless my mind is blown…. didn’t another interview with this same paper cause this exact same problem like a year and a half ago?

    After reading Hammer’s comments I still have trouble seeing where the “inflammatory” part comes from. Dude has pride and speaks on a bad situation, where’s the hassle? (Though I do also totally agree with everything else in the article). The curse of the Suns and their C position goes on and on and on and on…

  • john

    I appreciate Gortat thinking he’s better than he is. Most good players always think they’re the best player on the court, regardless of how true/false that notion might be. At least Gortat cares.

    I’m more with Michael on this issue. It might have been a little stupid of Gortat to go as far as he did (assuming the translations were accurate), but I appreciate Gortat’s candid nature.

    In my opinion, this will spur one of two things. Either the Suns pick it up and start playing better, winning, and developing that “chemistry” they have lacked so far this year, or this is the beginning of Gortat forcing his way out of Phoenix and the Suns tanking.

    Either way, I don’t see how this ends badly for either camp. Gortat will get what he wants one way or another (either winning with the Suns or going to a different team), and the Suns will get what they want/need (either winning now or advancing the rebuilding process, rather than being stuck in between).

  • john

    Unrelated to the Marcin talk, but interesting, nonetheless:

    Grantland’s Zach Lowe just called the Suns’ new court the ugliest in the NBA. I couldn’t agree more.

  • http://n/a Keith

    Gentry is done…he’ll be gone by the New Year. Gortat will play better with a new coach, and he’ll resign. And the court is awesome.

  • http://n/a Keith

    re-sign, lol

  • john

    @Keith

    “Gentry is done” – Agreed

    “He’ll be gone by the New Year” – Mildly disagree

    “Gortat will play better with a new coach” – Agreed, as long as the coach caters to Gortat more than Gentry, which I doubt would be an issue.

    “He’ll re-sign” – Disagree. I like Gortat, but I don’t think he fits the rebuilding scheme. He’ll be too expensive to allow a ton of flexibility, but he won’t be good enough to let the team contend.

    “The court is awesome” – You might be the only person alive who would say that except for the person who designed it… wait, did you design the floor? That would explain it.

  • Ty-Sun

    So many things to consider.

    If Gortat has soured on his role with the Suns and wants to be traded then it would probably be best to try to make a mid-season deal that would send him on his way and bring in some fresh blood.

    But it’s so early in the season that I think he’s jumping the gun in his criticisms. This early on the Suns can’t just give up on Beasley. He’s being given the chance to make or break his career. That experiment has been mostly a failure so far but it’s too soon to just give up on him.

    While not nearly the athlete that Gortat is, Scola is by far the more skilled offensive player in the paint. If Gortat would shut down his ego and actually try to learn something from Scola he could possibly improve his game by leaps and bounds. And THEN he would be the Suns’ go-to guy on offense.

    As for Gentry… is the problem Gentry or what Gentry is being told to do by the FO? The FO brought in Beasley and pinned their hopes on him so does he actually have a choice this early on about feeding the ball to Beasley in the hope that he finally produces? I don’t think that Gentry is a great coach but he isn’t a bad one either. Phill Jackson probably wouldn’t touch this team but if he did I doubt he would do much better with it than Gentry has.

  • Scott

    I’ve not read the original article, but Gortat was doubtlessly answering questions from his Polish fans along the lines of, “Why aren’t you scoring as much as last year? Why are the Suns losing so many games? You were a stud in European play over the summer … why won’t they give you the ball? They got rid of Nash and Hill, do you think they’ll trade you?” And so on.

    What Gortat has said to the Polish media is being blown out of proportion.

  • melon man

    If a Van Gundy becomes the new coach at any point in time I will disown the Suns.

    The court is cool in that it says “SUNS” from either side.

    Gortat just needs to show up and let us all see his Polish greatness or stfu.

  • DBreezy

    We’ll see if his comments were blown out of proportion as it relates to his on-court play soon enough, but there’s little doubt that he said them or what he meant. He didn’t backtrack or deny the comments in his recent interview with arizonasports and in a recent article on AZC he is quoted directly complaining about post touches. In fact, I bet he knew exactly what he was saying to arizonasports when he repeated Gentry’s ‘it is what it is,’ quote.

  • frenchysunsfan

    Trading Gortat would be a huge mistake, just give him a max contract. Who did the Suns got in exchange for great players we had during the last 8 years ?
    Late draft picks for STAT and Nash, a fat Vince Carter for Richardson, Diaw for Joe Johnson, what a mess !!
    We’ve also had Wes Johnson for Lopez whose value was quite high. Johnson does not play and won’t be re-signed at the end of the season.
    Who would we get for Gortat ? Luke Walton expiring contract ? 13 th or 14 th draft picks to get guys like Marshall who can’t play ?
    Please stop it and re-sign the rare good and young players we have. Give Gortat the role he wants and deserves, this guy just want to score and help the team to win. It is normal being frustrated when you play with guys Morris and Beasley who get 15 shoots a game at 35%.
    It is Gentry’s job to stop it and give new orders. If he doesn’t, he should go away.

  • melon man

    @frenchy

    LOL at the idea of a max contract for Gortat. Did you see his failed dunk attempts and the absolute manhandling he took in the last few games?

    If Gortat is max contract material then my car runs fine. FYI my car runs like crap.

  • DBreezy

    Yeah, a max contract is out of the question for Marcin. The current squad isn’t even a playoff team let alone a contender. Marcin is 28, pretty close to his ceiling as a player, and has been a part of things for the last 2.5 years. They’ve already made concessions due to Marcin’s unwillingness to work within the corner O. Get in the sandbox, make some friends, and play ball Marcin.

    The front office shouldn’t be in a hurry to do anything IMO. Sit down, take realistic stock of where you currently are in the West and give the squad a good 20 games before deciding to do anything with the coaches or players. Make the former publicly clear. Use the time between now and the 20th game or so, to not only evaluate the team but things like the draft and what players are realistically available in trade. It’s likely to be a long rebuild, probably with at least 2 more lottery seasons after this one. Make your decisions carefully to avoid it being longer than that.

  • http://none Mikel

    @frenchysunsfan Your right we didnt get anything for Amare, J.J, or J.Rich!!! But Gortat is NOT a Star in this league!!!! Therefore giving him a max contract is ridiculous!!!!!

  • PennyAnd1

    I don’t know how anyone can agree with Gortat. Defense is just as important as offense. He expects to lead the team in offense while the others to do defense? WTF! He’s good in defense and should stick to defense.

    Him crying about doing the dirty work pisses me off. What’s wrong with doing the dirty work? That just goes to show you how Gortat doesn’t understand the game of basketball. He’s a shame to the game.

    Nuff said

  • Tony

    Absent a complete mutiny by the players, Gentry is going nowhere. His contract is up at the end of the season, so not only would the front office be condemning itself even further if they fired Gentry, based on the simple fact that the true fault lies at the hands of the Three Stooges for providing him with a roster with very little talent, it simply makes much more sense to let him finish his contract and bring in a new head coach in the off-season.

    I don’t think enough attention has been paid to the substance of Gortat’s comments. Now, of course Gortat shouldn’t have gone public with his frustrations, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a right to be frustrated. For instance, while Beasley, who plays absolutely no defense, averages almost 16 shots per game, with just a 36fg%, Gortat, who does work hard defensively, is only averaging 9.4FGA per game. His usage rate has dropped from 20% last season to 15% this season. Heck, even Telfair has a higher usage rate than Gortat.

    The point is that although Gortat should not have come out publicly with his frustrations, he has a very reasonable argument to make. And it’s not as if the current Suns strategy is working. This is a team that is extreemely lucky just to be 4-7.

    @Dbreezy,

    I agree with you that the front office shouln’t panic and rush to make a decision regarding Gortat or Gentry for that matter. The idea of them going public would be a good idea in a typical situation when a player complains to the media about his team, but with not only the lack of any credibility in the front office, but also Babby’s consistent tendency to say one thing and do the exact opposite of what he said,(see Nash, Lopez, and Hill), I don’t think it’s very wise for any of them to speak publicly, as it would be just another reminder of how incompetent and untrustworthy they are.

    Speaking of the Suns front office, It’s good to see many Suns fans not contributing their hard-earned money to support such a miserable managemnt group. The Suns are ranked 23rd in home attendance, just two spots ahead of the Bobcats! Rememer folks, it was not too long ago, when the Suns had a sell-out streak that lasted several seasons. I hope the lack of basketball-related revenue forces Sarver to sell soon!

  • john

    Sarver has no incentive to sell at a loss. And from the rest of the names I know of in the management group, none of them have any reason to sell either. Hoping for a sale is a terrible thing, especially when there is never a guarantee that the new owner won’t move the team (if it can happen to Seattle, it can happen to Phoenix). Hope for a turnaround. In the NBA, it only takes one player to make it happen, so it’s much more plausible than you might imagine. Hoping for a sale is nothing but spiteful, hateful, and quite ignorant.

    I do agree with you about the Gortat issue though.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    @DBreezy

    Totally agree with your points about Gortat and the front office being patient. Honestly, I think Gortat does have the skill to get a contract along the lines of a JaVale, but it’s all about his approach. I thought he had made strides (the blocks were impressive) but the comments make me backtrack on that belief. Honestly, the guy could average 15 points without a single play being ran for him if he had the motor. That’s where my issue with him comes from. Of course, “motor” is one of those things that you can’t teach.

    @melon man

    I hope your car is OK.

  • Rishi

    You guys all start hating on Gentry for no reason. Man we haven’t even played that many games and look at the roster, so many new players, etc. I think Gentry is a great coach and that he is able to calmly educate and explain plays to the players. He is a soothing kind of personality that maybe we don’t need right now but time will tell. A fire breathing coach won’t make up for the lack of talent. Beating a dead horse doesn’t do anything. Having the worse defense in the NBA though just goes to prove the media right about the Suns not playing Defense or even wanting to learn to play defense…

  • DBreezy

    @K Zimmerman,

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s kind of amazing to watch what Jordan and McGee are doing in fewer minutes, with lower ball iq’s and fewer skills outside of hops. I believe Jordan had gone years without making a shot outside of the paint, yet he’s averaging what Marcin is?

  • http://slapdoghoops.blogspot.com Slap Dog Hoops

    I think Gortat has a point in saying that a lot of his teammates are more “one on one players” making it dificult to move the ball. The Suns have been playing that way of late and it has been hurting them. A player as skilled and talented as Michael Beasley should not be shooting just .360 from the field. That stat clearly shows that there is something wrong with how the Suns run their offense.