What do you do with a hammer that doesn’t work? Throw it away or trade it for a hammer that does work. How could a hammer not work, you say? If it doesn’t finish striking the nail, doing the job it was brought in to do.
That is what the Suns have to do with Marcin Gortat, famously known as the “Polish Hammer”. The problem is Gortat isn’t quite as good as when Phoenix brought him in, saving him from Dwight Howard’s shadow back in Orlando. With two-time MVP Steve Nash threading the needle through the lane for a Gortat slam down the throats of the defense. Gortat just isn’t the same without Nash. Even with Goran Dragic and now Eric Bledsoe, no one will compare to the playmaking skills of Nash. Gortat knows that best of all. Gortat just doesn’t finish around the rim like he should. It is really frustrating for fans.
Then Gortat went down with a foot injury around the middle of last season, mercifully sidelining the Polish center while Phoenix struggled against superior teams.
With the 2013 NBA draft came Alex Len, a 20-year-old center from Maryland, though he is originally from the Ukraine. This seems to mean 29-year-old Gortat’s time in the valley of the sun is numbered, especially with (currently third-string center) Miles Plumlee showing his athleticism, displaying his ability to be the backup to Len for the Suns in the case of a Gortat trade.
While nothing is imminent regarding Gortat, he should be gone by the trade deadline, but not too soon. His value has to come back up. From struggling with the departure of Nash and the foot injury, Phoenix probably wouldn’t be able to get too much in return for the Polish Hammer. Instead he should start at center, play we’ll, and near the February trade deadline, the Suns should package him in a trade with someone else to a team in need of a quality center.
Best-Case Scenario: Gortat plays well, meshes with Suns new acquisitions, teaches Len a lot, and gets traded at the deadline for top value.
Worst-Case Scenario: He doesn’t play well gets benched because his injury lingered and we have to end up trading him for much less than we would like.
What Probably Will Happen: Gortat seems to be over his injury, so he’ll play slightly better than last season (Bledsoe’s ability to run the team with Dragic will give him easy opportunities to score). Then we’ll package him with either Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall, or the Morrii for a promising, young player looking to get paid.
Projected Statistical Averages: PPG: 11.0 (-0.1), RPG: 9.0 (+0.5), BLKPG: 1.5 (-0.1)
It has been great having Gortat as a decent Phoenix Suns center to lessen the blow of Amare Stoudamire leaving, but now it’s time for the Polish Hammer to move on and for the Alex Len era to begin.