COMMENTARY | It seems like a foregone conclusion that Marcin Gortat will wear a different jersey by the trade deadline. He's got an expiring contract and doesn't fit in with the Phoenix Suns' current rebuilding project.
That's why it's more important than ever that Gortat has a big 2013-14 season, both for him and for the Suns.
The obvious reason why Gortat needs to have a big season is money, but there is a secondary aspect here. If Gortat starts the season well, it may open the market as far as teams willing to take him on as a "rental" of sorts.
Teams with championship aspirations would be more likely to give up assets to acquire Gortat, even assuming they won't be able to re-sign him after the season is over. That could be the jackpot for Gortat.
Imagine a scenario where a contending team needs a big man and puts together a suitable package for Gortat. Then, not only could Gortat potentially play for (and win) the NBA championship, but he also would still be able to go on the open market and get a big payday.
The Suns want to continue stockpiling their assets and would love to find a way to get more 2014 first-round picks. It doesn't seem likely that the Suns will get a lottery pick, as lottery teams wouldn't have a reason to trade for Gortat but would instead wait until the offseason and attempt to sign him as a free agent.
So, the most likely scenario would be the Suns snagging another late first-round pick or perhaps some first-round picks down the line. Certainly, the Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami Heat could be a team willing to release picks to go all out for the title.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
Gortat took a big step forward when he came over from the Orlando Magic during the 2010-11 season. He went from averaging 9.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per-36 minutes all the way up to 15.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per-36. A big reason for that was Steve Nash.
When Nash left, Gortat's numbers fell. He slipped to 13.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per-36 minutes during the 2012-13 season with Goran Dragic as his point guard.
With respect to Jameer Nelson and Dragic, it's clear that Gortat produced at a much higher level when he had an elite pass-first point guard playing with him. The Suns aren't going to have that this season with the Eric Bledsoe/Dragic combination.
Gortat isn't the kind of center who can create his own shot. He can finish in the pick-and-roll and is definitely an excellent target near the paint when he's open.With that said, the most likely scenario is Gortat puts up another good-but-not-great season in which he averages 13-14 points and 10-11 rebounds per-36 minutes. He'll get traded near the deadline to a contender for picks, and both the Suns and Gortat will go on to bigger and better things.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals on the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the NBA site HoopsHabit.com.
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