The Orlando Magic spent nearly five years on the “Marcin Gortat project,” from the night they drafted him in 2005 to his evolution into a much-desired free agent this offseason. Acquired with the 57th overall pick, “long shot” was about the nicest way to describe Gortat’s NBA prospects in ’05. He was a complete unknown — some random Polish guy with incredible size and above-average rapping ability.
So pardon the Magic if they want something in return after five years of grooming, caressing and molding an all-grown-up Marcin Gortat. It’s like buying a 1968 Camaro for a week’s pay, spending years tirelessly working in the garage, supping it up and having it stolen once you finally take it out on the town. It’s like sticking with a girl as she goes through a divorce and a drug problem, then watching her find another guy as soon as she gets clean. There are so many applicable similes that I’m going to stop now.
Fact is, the Magic don’t want to get nothing in return for a potential-laden big man with an affordable price tag. The Magic know there are several teams out there who would love to build around a player like Gortat, and it’s no coincidence that Gortat received interest from the Western Conference elite — pardon Otis Smith for trying to use that to his advantage.
“We have 5 years invested in him and we do believe in protecting that asset,” Smith said on Monday. Some bullet-points on the move:
The move comes with a little bit of risk, with both an injury (of course that’s a hazard with any move) and drop in production (Gortat was good for a very short stretch; what if he regresses or doesn’t prove himself in a prolonged Howard absence?) having the ability to disrupt the Magic’s plan. I believe, however, that the potential reward far outweighs the risk. That reward could be a mid-season acquisition such as Shane Battier or Chris Bosh. I don’t want to throw out any random names or speculation, but I believe Smith could be eyeing a home-run ball with this move.
Gortat will be in Orlando until at least Dec. 15, and in all honesty I wouldn’t be shocked to see him stay all season if the Magic are enjoying a successful year. If Smith feels the team is playing well throughout the first two months of the season — and I’m talking championship good — then why would he make a move?
If you’re worried about Gortat moping and letting his frustrations affect his play, I’d find another arguing point. This is an NBA player making a lot of money but still looking to prove himself, surrounded by friends and in a comfortable situation. He will give it his all. Said Gortat on Friday: “There’s a team that invested a lot of time in me. Not only 2 years in the NBA, but the 2 or 3 years before I got into the NBA to develop my game before the summer league and in the summer league. I’ve been with this team since 2005. I won’t be disappointed. I feel really comfortable here in this city and in this organization.”
If anything, this is finally proof that Smith really can spend as much as he wants, even if it means dipping way into the luxury tax — before this, it was all talk. Commenter Ryan, in a post that was vehemently against the re-signing of Gortat, said the Magic are throwing around their money like they’re “buying Boardwalk and Park Place.” Well, who always wins Monopoly? The guy with Boardwalk and Park Place! If you want to play with the big boys, you have to go all-in — and the Magic organization is proving that it’s committed to its fans and committed to winning. If you’re a Magic fan, you have to love the message this move sends even if you disagree with it.
It’s too bad the Magic raped and pillaged the city of Dallas in the process, but what can you do? It’s a business, and the Magic gotta get me mine. But I really do feel bad for the Mavericks, who are in a lot of trouble with Erick Dampier as their only real asset at center.