will apparently start with a clean slate. Both Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and Gortat’s agent, Guy Zucker, have said Phoenix will go into the 2013-14 season with the Polish big man as the starting center.
McDonough told the Burns and Gambo show on Friday they’d hang onto Gortat, though a contract extension hasn’t been discussed. The Suns have apparently relayed those wishes to Zucker, who said the drafting of Maryland center Alex Len won’t play a part in Gortat’s status — as of today.
How Gortat fits in with a rebuilding roster of course is key. Jeff Hornacek and McDonough mentioned after the draft that Gortat could play a mentor role to Len, who was introduced in Phoenix Friday with a walking boot on his foot.
Len has a stress fracture but he’s expected to only miss the Summer League before a projected return in August.
It’s likely the Suns want to see what value they can get out of one of their best players in Gortat, if anything. McDonough didn’t deal with Gortat’s rough season in 2012-13, and it seems reasonable to sit on the center rather than dumping him for expiring contracts and a pick — maybe he can rebuild his value with a strong start to the year and get moved for a coveted 2014 first-round pick before the trade deadline.
From Gortat’s end, it’ll be more interesting. He’ll put on the frustrated face when losing — that we know — but his playful locker room presence once he sprained his foot and losses weren’t necessarily on him alluded to more questions. In short, it remains to be seen if he can stay positive and lead a struggling team. Hornacek will have a clean slate himself in convincing the Polish center of the positives of playing hard for a young squad, so there’s still reason to believe Gortat could make a positive impact in the locker room, as well as on the court.