The Washington Wizards and the Phoenix Suns completed the first trade of the 2013-14 NBA season when the Suns sent center Marcin Gortat to the Wizards for Emeka Okafor in a five-player deal on Oct. 25.
Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall will be joining Gortat in Washington while Phoenix also gets a protected 2014 first round selection (to No. 12) and has top-10 protection from 2015-to-2019. Okafor, who is out indefinitely with a herniated disk in his neck, is in the last year of his deal and is scheduled to make $14.5 million this season.
Gortat gives Washington a healthy starting center who is a more proficient scorer than Okafor. Also, the Wizards can now move Nene back to his natural power forward position,
“We needed size. And Gortat is not just size. He’s good size. He’s a talented guy,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a telephone interview. “We felt it would be really a good opportunity to fortify our front line. A solid offensive player at the five became available and we thought it was an opportunity we had to take advantage of.”
The 6-11 Gortat, who missed 21 games last year with a right foot injury, averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Suns last season. He was deemed expendable by the rebuilding Suns after selecting 7-1 center Alex Len out of Maryland with the fifth pick of the 2013 draft. Gortat, 29, is in his final year of his contract and will $7.7 million this season.
Okafor, a defensive stalwart in the paint, averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game last year.
The Wizards are expected to waive Marshall, Brown and Lee in order to get their roster down to the league-maximum 15 players in time for opening night.
While Gortat gives the Wizards more frontcourt punch, they will still rely heavily on their starting backcourt Bradley Beal and John Wall to lead the offense. Martell Webster, Glen Rice Jr. will back up Beal at shooting guard while Eric Maynor and Garrett Temple as well as Rice or Beal will get opportunities to play the point when Wall takes a breather. Rice or Temple could start the season on the inactive list or in the D-League. Webster could also see time at small forward as rookie Otto Porter and third-year small forward Chris Singleton is out with a broken bone in his foot.
Trevor Ariza will likely join Gortat and Hilario in the frontcourt at Detroit on Oct. 30. Al Harrington most likely be the first player off the bench for the Wizards. Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker rounds out the frontcourt rotation for the Wizards.