A year filled with pain for Celtics fans everywhere has all led up to this: the offseason.
From the second Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were traded, Boston faithful knew it was going to be a rough year. Eighty-two games, 25 wins and 57 losses later, the Celtics’ have a few different options they can take this summer when it comes to roster reconstruction.
Now, here’s the bomb dropping: Forget. Kevin. Love.
Just do it … please. It will make it a little less painful for you when he ends up on some team out in the Western Conference. But wait! Before you start petitioning for the removal of my writing privileges, allow me to present another dish the Cs could serve up this summer.
In a piece earlier this week, my colleague Shawn McFarland joined the counterculture movement among Celtics fans right now, electing to stay far, far away from Love and the Wolves. For reasoning, he cited the asking price as much too high, even for a fringe-superstar like Love. And he is correct; it shouldn’t take shipping out half of the roster to become a playoff team again, especially when a much simpler solution lies right under the nose of Danny Ainge & Co.
Enter Marcin Gortat.
“The Polish Hammer” has remained an intriguing trade/free-agent prospect for the past two seasons now. Boston’s last 163 games have been played without a true, starting-caliber center. Before he was traded to Washington last summer, Gortat was a decent player trapped on a then-horrible Phoenix team. The Suns were entering rebuilding mode (or so we thought), and just when it looked like the Celtics were prepared to make a serious run at him last year, Washington snatched from the Suns’ claws by dangling Emeka Okafor‘s $14 million expiring deal in Ryan McDonagh’s face.
After missing 21 games in 2012-13, Marcin bounced back with his new club and appeared in 81 games this past season. He posted averages of 13.2 points and 9.5 boards a night and shot 54.2 percent from the field–all increases from the prior year. He isn’t a star by any means; Gortat is a second scoring option at best. But, with that, he is a versatile big; he can pass, score, defend–you name it.
One more thing: he thrives with pass-first point guards. Back in 2011-12, when paired with Steve Nash, Gortat sported career high averages in points & rebounds (15.4 and 10.0, respectively) while shooting almost 56 percent from the field. The Polish Hammer would be a fantastic pick-and-roll partner with Rajon Rondo; he has a wide body, he’s a quick roller, he can shoot the jumper and he can make the off-balance layup with either hand. He can also get deep in the post and hit scoop-shots and jump-hooks in straight post-isolations. Oh, and he even has his own version of Hakeem’s dream shake, as shown below.
OK … so maybe it doesn’t work 100 percent of the time, but he certainly has his moments.
Now, it’s important to note that Gortat just came off of a heck of a season with the Washington Wizards, one in which he helped carry them to a No. 5 seed and advance to the conference semifinals, despite the fact that the team was missing Nene for a good chunk of the year. Gortat proved his worth this past season, and as the Pacers brought the Wiz’s season to end, it looked as though Gortat was ready to stay in Washington for the next couple of years.
A few days ago, however, Gortat retweeted a photoshopped picture of him wearing a Celtics jersey. And, of course, who could forget when he tried to enter the Celtics’ huddle?
He’s practically a Celtic already, isn’t he?
But really, in the same way that Kevin Love visiting Boston doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to wear the green and white, we just don’t know what Marcin’s current wishes are, and we won’t know until he signs somewhere this offseason. Really, if there is a mutual interest in a re-signing with Washington, it’s tough to see Gortat walking away from a team that has so much promising young-talent and a heck of a head coach in Randy Wittman.
Then again, for some guys, the cash talks louder than anything else. The Cs aren’t swimming in cap space this offseason with only about $10 mil free–assuming Avery Bradley walks–but a multi-year deal with Gortat for somewhere around $8-9 mil a season (he makes $7.727 mil right now) would be a steal.
He’s a 6’11, 240-pound monster who gobbles up rebounds like Pac-Man and has a refined post game. He can play defense, he can pass, and he can shoot. He is exactly the type of utility center that the Celtics are in dire need of.
Gortat is skilled, mean, and Polish–it really doesn’t get much better than that.