Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat says this was the most difficult season of his NBA career, as personal issues derailed him.
Gortat inked a five-year, $60 million extension last summer, but his production dipped—the big fella averaged 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds—and saw his playing time decrease.
The 31-year old enjoys playing alongside teammate Nene in the paint, but wants the Wizards to find another big fella who can help stretch the floor and open up the lane.
Per the WaPo:
“I would say in the eight years of my career, the eighth year was pretty much the toughest one from a personal standpoint,” said Gortat, who completed the first of a five-year, $60 million contract. “I had some issues during the season and that definitely didn’t help me to focus on basketball. That part is on me, definitely on me. I can’t blame anybody for that. I’m not going to talk about those issues. That’s why we call this personal business.”
“That’s a coaching decision. I don’t have an influence on that and as a basketball player of course I’m pissed. I want to compete,” Gortat said of the lack of fourth-quarter minutes. “I wanted to show that I’m a good basketball player. I believe I can close out the games. It’s a coaching decision. There were many situations where honestly I wasn’t supposed to be on the floor and I was on the floor. But there were times when I thought I should be on the floor and I wasn’t. So it’s a coaching decision. That’s his decision. I’m not going to get into details. But I’m going to talk to him about that. I’m going to talk about different things and we had a lot of different guys that played well at that time.”
Gortat, who insisted the burden of a new contract didn’t hinder him, snapped out of the slump with 24 points and 10 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons on Feb. 22, and finished the regular season strong, averaging 13.6 points on 62.1 percent shooting and 10.1 rebounds in 31.5 minutes over the final 27 regular season games. He then averaged 12.4 points on 62.8 percent shooting and 8.8 rebounds in 30.7 minutes in the playoffs. The improved output coincided with playing alongside a stretch-four more often – Drew Gooden III and Paul Pierce – providing room for him to operate instead of Nene clogging the interior. […] “As much as I love Nene, and I think Nene understands this too, I would love to play with a stretch-four, with a guy who shoots the ball from the three-point line,” Gortat said. “Because that automatically gives me room under the basket to operate and gives me more opportunity to play pick-and-rolls and roll to the paint where the paint is open.”