With the start of the NBA regular season just around the corner, the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards are reportedly swapping centers in a deal that also involves several other players and a draft pick.
UPDATE: Monday, Oct. 28, at 8:18 p.m. ET
The Wizards have waived everybody not named Gortat in the trade according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
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UPDATE: Friday, Oct. 25, at 7:12 p.m. ET
From ESPN's Jeff Goodman:
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ESPN's Marc Stein initially had the details:
The Wizards confirmed the move in a statement:
Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired center Marcin Gortat along with guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall in exchange for center Emeka Okafor and a 2014 protected first round draft pick.
“We have solidified our frontcourt by adding a player who has established himself as a very consistent and productive inside presence over the last three seasons,” said Grunfeld. “Marcin’s ability to rebound, defend and score will allow us to continue where we left off last season and pushes us further toward our goal of becoming a playoff team.”
The Washington Post reporter Michael Lee notes more details:
Gortat spoke out about the trade on Twitter:
The motivation of each team is clear.
Washington is intent on contending this season. With John Wall and Bradley Beal healthy and expected to take the next step in the echelon of top NBA backcourts, the Wizards' 2013-14 forecast was already encouraging.
Now add Gortat, who has averaged 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks over the last two seasons, in place of Okafor, who is out indefinitely with a neck injury, and the frontcourt also takes a step forward.
The 6'11", 240-pound center struggled last year with a foot injury and sporadic playing time but has looked healthy this preseason and should fit in nicely next to Nene, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker.
On the other side of things, Phoenix is preparing for the future.
Okafor is on the last year of his contract, and with his status in doubt, the Suns—already in rebuilding mode—appear ready to turn to rookie Alex Len, the No. 5 pick in this year's draft.
In addition to the cap space Okafor will eventually clear, an extra first-round pick, though top-12 protected, per Goodman, gives them another potential franchise building block—they could have four first-rounders in a stacked 2014 draft.