Centre Marcin Gortat agreed to a $60-million, five-year contract Tuesday to remain with the Washington Wizards, according to a person familiar with the deal, a major step in the team’s quest to keep the roster intact as much as reasonably possible following the end of a playoff drought.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be signed until July 10 under NBA free agency rules.
Gortat follows coach Randy Wittman, who was given a contract extension last month, and backup point guard Andre Miller, whose contract was guaranteed for another season on Saturday, as the third piece in team president Ernie Grunfeld’s quest to retain the key contributors who took Washington to the post-season for the first time since 2008.
“I’m proud to say Washington will be my home,” Gortat tweeted Tuesday evening.
Acquired for a first-round draft pick and injured centre Emeka Okafor as part of a five-player trade with the Phoenix Suns just before the start of the regular season, Gortat gave the Wizards a much-needed stronger presence in the paint to complement the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal while taking some of the frontcourt load from power forward Nene.
The 30-year-old “Polish Hammer” – the only player from Poland in the NBA – averaged 13.2 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds, missed only one game and became a vocal locker-room leader. He was in the final year of his contract and became a free agent Tuesday, but he had made it clear he wanted to return to the Wizards, often speaking about next season as if it were a given that he would be back. Washington had to act quickly because Gortat was one of the top big men on the open market.
The next priority for the Wizards is small forward Trevor Ariza, the team’s best 3-point shooter and best defender. Ariza also is expected to attract several suitors as a free agent.
“Got my man @MGortat back now waitin for my bro @TrevorAriza...Come on !!” Wall tweeted.
The agent for Miami Heat stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade refuted a report on Tuesday that his clients were prepared to take significant pay cuts, which would free up some salary for general manager Pat Riley to use to improve the roster.
The Portland Oregonian had reported Bosh was expected to sign a five-year deal worth $11-million for the first year of the deal while Wade would sign a four-year deal that starts at $12-million for the first season.
But agent Henry Thomas said the report was inaccurate and that both players will be paid more. If that is the case, the Heat will wind up with quite a bit less than the reported $12-million to use on improving the roster.
LeBron James is demanding a maximum contract, which should pay the superstar in the neighborhood of $22-million.
The Heat is expected to target free agent guard Kyle Lowry of Toronto or free agent center Marcin Gortat of Washington.
Free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony arrived amid fanfare in Chicago as he began his tour to possibly find a new team. The Bulls welcomed the seven-time All-Star to the Windy City with signs at the United Center.
After his trip to Chicago, Anthony reportedly will head to Texas on Wednesday to meet with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.
CBSSports.com reported Anthony will meet with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
The Cleveland Cavaliers reached an agreement with guard Kyrie Irving late Monday night on a contract extension.
The extension is reported to be a max contract allowed under the collective bargaining agreement at five years and $95-million. The new deal begins next year and will run through the 2019-20 season.
The Milwaukee Bucks made their hiring of Jason Kidd as coach official on Tuesday after finalizing a deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets received a second-round draft pick in 2015 and 2019 as compensation for Kidd, who spent one season as their coach and posted a 44-38 record. Kidd’s new contract is expected to be for three or four years.
Lionel Hollins has emerged as the most likely candidate to replace Kidd as the coach for the Brooklyn Nets.
During a Tuesday news conference, Nets general manager Billy King said he had dinner with Hollins on Monday night and was expected to meet with Hollins again on Tuesday.
Hollins guided the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals in 2013.
The Detroit Pistons and free agent small forward Jodie Meeks agreed on a three-year, $19.5-million deal. The Pistons also signed small forward Cartier Martin to a one-year deal.
Meeks averaged 15.7 points per game last year for the Lakers.
The Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers were busy contacting free agent forward Luol Deng shortly after the beginning of free agency at midnight on Tuesday.
He made it clear that he is not interested in taking a pay cut to join those teams or the Miami Heat.
Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders added son Ryan to his staff as an assistant coach for next season.
Ryan Saunders comes to Minnesota after five years with the Washington Wizards working as an advance scout and in analytics.
Forward Ed Davis became an unrestricted free agent Tuesday when the Memphis Grizzlies decided against making him a qualifying offer.
The 6-foot-10 Davis joined the Grizzlies after a trade with the Toronto Raptors in January 2013. In 99 career games with Memphis, he averaged 5.5 points and 4.2 rebounds.
With files from Reuters
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