The Suns have agreed to send Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall, Malcolm Lee and Shannon Brown to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Emeka Okafor and a protected 2014 first-round pick in the trade first reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein and the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman added the specifics of the draft pick, which is protected through the first 12 picks. If the pick is retained by Washington in 2014, then it is top-10 protected from 2015-19 and has no more protections thereafter, according to David Aldridge.
(Update: 4 p.m.): The trade is now official.
“Marcin, Shannon and Kendall have been valuable members of the Suns family the past few years,” said Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby in a release. “We have enjoyed working with each of them and appreciate their hard work and professionalism. We wish all of them well.”
Okafor’s $14.5 million contract that expires after this season is added to the Suns books, but the veteran big man is out indefinitely with a neck injury.
Washington will not keep Brown, Lee or Marshall, according to Aldridge.
Of course, the biggest piece of the proposed deal is Gortat, who admitted at media day his days as a Phoenix Sun were likely numbered.
“We all know what I am right now,” Gortat said, “and we all know what’s going to happen, probably. It’s business. I totally understand that, I totally understand the situation. I totally understand the management, the front office people. There’s no hard feelings. At the end of the day I’m a pro, I’m going to try to do everything necessary to win a basketball game.”
The trade does a number of things.
Firstly, the exchange of four players to one brings Phoenix’s roster down to 14, meaning another move could be in the books if Phoenix so chooses. It opens up opportunities for the Suns’ young players in Alex Len, Miles Plumlee and Slava Kravtsov, and gives the outgoing veterans in Brown and Gortat a chance to legitimately fight for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It also gives Marshall a fresh start with the Wizards — he likely sits behind Eric Maynor as John Wall’s backup point guard.
On Friday, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said Marshall was battling for his job, but that competition with Ish Smith is all but over. The point guard riddle is now clear.
The Suns won’t tie themselves up financially in the deal with Okafor’s contract — another plot line could be Okafor potentially taking a leadership role in the locker room as he recovers. It’s quite possible he doesn’t see the court for the Suns considering he’s dealing with a herniated disc that had some people speculating he might need to call it a career.
Most importantly, Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough has positioned his team to have up to four first-round picks in next year’s exceptional draft.
“We are excited to add another first-round pick in what is shaping up to be the best draft in a decade,” McDonough said in a team release. “We now have a chance to make four first-round selections in 2014. Emeka Okafor is a solid veteran center who will help solidify our front line when and if he is able to return from injury.”
It’s another win for the new front office, and just before the season begins, the lingering questions have seemingly been answered.