Gortat, in my opinion, should be traded before the deadline; he's been playing pretty well lately as he's averaged a double-double with 1.5 blocks in the past month.
Teams that were once in the upper-tier but are floundering in the lower seeds or outside of the playoff picture are sure to be getting desperate as the half-way point of the season draws near, and a serviceable starting-caliber C like Gortat is sure to be having GMs watering at the mouth.
One of those GMs has to be Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics, with their rebounding woes and having to play an aging Kevin Garnett extended minutes at the 5. I have a couple Celtics on my fantasy squad so I end up watching a lot of their games, and even though he's playing superbly on offense Garnett is getting out-muscled and out-hustled on the other end. Doc Rivers has to have noticed that.
Which is why I think Boston would be willing to part ways with one or more of their youthful prospects for a chance to go after Gortat, who is on a great contract and fits perfectly with the middle-aged win-now Celtics.
Here is my proposal:
Why BOS does this:
As I stated above, Gortat has long been a target for the C's who have long been in desperate need of a quality 5 that is good defensively and a contributor on offense. They tried to solve for the latter when they traded Kendrick Perkins for Nenad Krstic, but Krstic was a sieve defensively. Every center they've tried since has been quite terrible on offense. Gortat is a solid defensive presence who particularly excels as a help defender which fits the C's game plan very well. He also helps in the rebounding department where the C's have struggled all year long. Then there's his offensive game, a highly-efficient one which should complement their committee-style offense very well. A Rondo-Gortat PNR with Jason Terry and Paul Pierce on the wings could be deadly. Gortat would surely push them over the top and get them back into contention.
This all makes Gortat more useful to the Celtics than to probably any other team in the league so they'd be willing to give up a lot more than $7 mil in value (Gortat's salary), in which case we would have to ask for both Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley. Why do the C's unload two young studs?
1) They aren't the type of franchise that has really ever been good at culling young talent. They've always been the type to draft a centerpiece player (Rondo, Pierce, Bird, etc.) and then trade for or sign other complementary star players. They would much rather break out of the purgatory of mediocrity they find themselves in by trading for Gortat than suck for a few years by unloading their veteran players and developing their 2nd tier youth (they've got to do one or the other).
2) They have a logjam at the PF and SG positions. Their PF-eligible players are Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, and Sullinger who are all solid players deserving of 25+ minutes each. By unloading Sullinger they get to stop forcing Garnett at the C and also frees up playing time for Fab Melo for spot minutes at the 5.
At SG they have Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa and Avery Bradley. Bradley is coming off an injury and has been inconsistent, so the Celtics have been shopping him. It is reasonable to assume they would get rid of two of their SGs if it would net them Gortat, as Lee's contribution does not match his contract and a depth chart of Terry and Barbosa is perfectly fine.
3) The C's get a legitimate back-up PG in Marshall (who is a lot like Rondo) and a back-up SF in Tucker. Right now the only real PG on their roster is Rondo and their only pure SF is Pierce. Acquiring Marshall and Tucker would help their depth tremendously without giving up size. Tucker is also a very good defender so he fits perfectly with their game plan, the East has all the big and physical star SFs such as LeBron and Melo and the C's will need a defensive stopper to keep them in check if they want to make a long run in the playoffs.
Why PHX does this:
The Suns get a beast in Sullinger who has been playing like a stud since being given quality minutes. His rebounding rate is off the charts. He's got the poise, smarts, and craftiness of a veteran while having the youthful energy of a young-in. His offensive game is probably the most polished of all the big men taken in this year's draft; his post defense needs some work but he's pretty decent and experience should only help him in that end. A talent who fell to 22nd overall (for reasons I'm not completely sure of) but should have been taken in the top 10. He definitely has the goods and the attitude to be a cornerstone of a franchise for years to come.
Meanwhile, we get to unload two veterans who really have no place on a rebuilding team (Tucker and Gortat) as well as a mistake of a draft pick in Marshall. This gets rid of our logjam at PG, allowing us to play Diante Garrett spot minutes at the 1. Trading Tucker allows us to give Michael Beasley another big shot at rectifying his piss-poor play thus far. Seldom-used Wesley Johnson would get valuable court-time too. No Gortat means more minutes for Markieff Morris who is adept at playing the 5 as well as the 4.
Courtney Lee is thrown in there to make contracts match and can be traded at the end of the season. Either way it's a win, as he provides mentorship for the young guys on the team. He does have Finals experience after all. Bradley is a stud who will have a bigger role in PHX than he's had in Boston. He has a polished offensive game and is a defensive monster. Definitely worth developing.
Keep in mind our objective in this scenario is not to win immediately, it's to gather talented prospects for the future as well as get a top-5 draft pick for next year and - most important of all - maintain our financial flexibility. The 2013 FA class is not a bad one and 2014 is even better. We will still have our cap space if we go through with this trade, and of course we can unload veterans like Scola, O'Neal and Telfair at the end of this season.
By next year our roster will look like this:
Dragic / FA / Bradley
Bradley / Muhammad / (Lee)
Dudley / Beasley / Johnson
Sullinger / Morris / Beasley
(Pekovic) / Morris / FA
and we can fill in holes as needed. This roster will likely suck for a couple years but if everyone develops as they're supposed to and Lindsey Hunter doesn't end up being a terrible coach, I think we can be a very good team in 3-5 years as long as we keep drafting well and make a couple smart trades (especially if Beasley and Johnson don't pan out). We certainly wouldn't be short on assets.
Best part is we get to keep Studley and all our draft picks!!
This was a really long post. Thanks for reading. What do you all think?