Marcin Gortat Ready for Expanded Role
Gortat may be signing a new free agent contract Wednesday with the Dallas Mavericks, but he came to the RDV Sportsplex to watch the Pro Summer League and say goodbye to many of his friends.
Gortat is expected to receive a five-year, $33 million contract, a far cry from playing the last four years on the Magic's Summer League team of rookies and hopeful longshots.
Next season he expects to be starting for the Mavs, who hope to become contenders again in the Western Conference. Magic general manager Otis Smith said again Monday that he doesn't expect to match the Mavs offer, which would allow him to keep Gortat, a restricted free agent.
The Mavs still have highly-paid center Erick Dampier, who started last season, but he is being shopped in various trade scenarios.
"I think I'm ready to be a starting lineup guy,'' he said Monday. "I'll have to fight for that spot, but Dallas has all the pieces. Jason Kidd is a great point guard. Dirk Nowitzki is the best power forward in the game, and I just want to help them win.''
Gortat also was strongly pursued by the Houston Rockets, who came to Orlando on the first day of free agency last week. The Mavericks, though, were the only ones offering the big money.
"I grew up here (in the Summer League) as a player,'' said Gortat, the NBA's only player from Poland. "So I loved the idea of coming back. It shows where hard work can lead you.''
Gortat averaged just 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12.6 minutes this season but showed enough promise in the playoffs as a backup to convince at least the two Texas teams that he was ready to become a starter.
"It's going to be a different role for me now,'' he said. "But it's something I'm ready for. I had a role in Orlando, but I'm ready for a little more. And I think I'll get that in Dallas.''