WASHINGTON (AP) — Seemed fairly clear that Marcin Gortat and the Washington Wizards were ready to part ways. Now they will.
The Wizards traded Gortat, their starting center, to the Los Angeles Clippers for guard Austin Rivers on Tuesday night. Both players are entering the final season of their contracts and are set to earn similar salaries, making a straight-up exchange work under NBA rules.
The 34-year-old Gortat is a durable, screen-setting big man who has played 12 years in the league, the past five with Washington. He averaged 8.4 points and 7.6 rebounds last season, his lowest numbers since 2009-10, when he was with the Orlando Magic, but could fill a need in Los Angeles if DeAndre Jordan departs.
After the Wizards finished eighth in the Eastern Conference and lost in the first round of the playoffs to No. 1 seed Toronto, Gortat was adamant that he had no interest in changing his style of play at this late stage of his career.
Asked about the possibility of working on his outside shot, Gortat replied: “This summer, I’m going to work on my tan. I’m going to work on my 6-pack. Get my biceps definition a bit better. You can’t improve 3-point shooting. You can’t improve your shot, specifically for me. I truly believe I’m a solid, good shooter up to 15, 17 feet. But I’m not going to shoot 3s. No, I’m not going to do that. I want to go into the paint. Body people. Be physical. Get scratches. Bleed.”
Gortat also discussed the widely held perception that he and All-Star point guard John Wall did not get along.
“We are good. Are we best friends? And, like, the greatest friends? Brothers? Probably not. But I’m not best friends with probably half of the team over there,” Gortat said in April after Washington was eliminated. “So I have a few good friends, but the rest of them are just my colleagues and teammates. That’s how it is. That’s how it is around the league.”
The Wizards had a bit of a roster problem at center, with Gortat plus a similar, stay-in-the-paint, well-paid backup center Ian Mahinmi.
They also were in need of backup help at guard, which Rivers can provide.
Rivers, who turns 26 in August, averaged a career-best 15.1 points and four assists last season while playing for his father, Doc, the Clippers’ coach.
“He is coming off a career year and his ability to create offense for himself and others will help our second unit and allow us to play a variety of lineups throughout the season,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement announcing the trade.
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