The New Orleans Pelicans may have had a worse season than some may have expected in 2013-14, but there’s reason for hope. They have a franchise cornerstone in Anthony Davis, young talented All-Star caliber players in Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday, and a three-point ace in Ryan Anderson. The only thing missing is a true center, something they need to compete in the tough Western Conference. With no draft pick at all this year, New Orleans is limited to either a trade or free agency to acquire said center. Given the rarity of true centers in today’s NBA, not many teams are in the market to deal them, not for cheap anyways.
That’s where free agency comes in, specifically Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat. Gortat, 30, was a key cog in the Wizards’ playoff run this season. He was actually one of the better centers in the entire Eastern Conference, and he was as efficient as any other big man in the league. He averaged 13.2 points per game on 54 percent shooting, Gortat converted on the majority of his scoring chances. Even with his scoring, the Polish big man was no slouch on the boards, pulling down 9.5 per contest.
His 17.66 PER is impressive, and he would be an instant impact player for whatever team chooses to sign him. New Orleans should take note of this, given that they’ve been running Jason Smith and Greg Stiemsma out at center for the past few seasons. Essentially, the Pelicans would welcome a legitimate big man like Marcin to pair with Anthony Davis in the paint with open arms.
New Orleans ranked 22nd in the league in total rebounding, with second-year star Anthony Davis leading the way with 10 per game this past season. Bringing in Gortat, a threat to pull down double-digit rebounds every night, would change that stat tremendously for New Orleans. Gortat isn’t the biggest scoring threat by any means, but his 13.2 per game last season would look great for New Orleans, who saw Stiemsma average only 2.9 points per game, while playing in over 18 minutes per game.
But what comes with Gortat’s skill level is the fact that New Orleans would have some serious competition to sign the Pole. Washington is surely a team that would love to see him back in a Wizards jersey, and teams like the Miami Heat also have a dire need for big man help. Does this mean New Orleans is out of the running? Not at all, but it doesn’t help their chances either. Basically, throwing the most money towards Gortat might be the easiest way to lock down his services.
Without re-signing any free agents currently on the roster, New Orleans would have $14.7 million sitting around. A player of Gortat’s caliber could be looking for anywhere around $8-$10 million dollars on the open market, especially where true centers are hard to find. New Orleans has that kind of money to play with, but that might cause them to not be able to re-sign a few current players.
However, if New Orleans can land Gortat, a legitimate center to help them compete in the West, I think they could get over that. They have a relatively talented roster despite their record, and bringing in Gortat could make them serious contenders come next October.