Did Marcin Gortat play his final game in purple and orange? Plenty of reasons to believe so.
Gortat suffered a foot injury against the Toronto Raptors last Wednesday and the next morning he was diagnosed with a sprain foot which will force him wear a boot for the next three weeks and the injury can sideline him for three to four weeks. However for NBA big men, foot injuries are cancerous, as well as any other lower body injury.
Assuming Gortat’s time table for return is accurate, then he’d be set to return sometime after the first week of April which means he could return as early as the April 5th game against the Golden State Warriors or as late as the April 10th game against the Dallas Mavericks.
If Gortat is truly adamant about returning, he can easily play another game for the Suns this season, but at this point there are doubts on if the Suns would let him, and here’s why:
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute, the Suns season was over before it began. If the Suns couldn’t make the playoffs for two straight seasons with Steve Nash, there was hardly any reason to believe they would make the playoffs without him.
Assuming the Suns let Gortat comeback this season and play out the small handful of games remaining on the season when he returns, the Suns would risk Gortat further injuring his foot which will hurt his trade value if the Suns decide they want to trade him in the off-season.
“I want to come back,” Gortat said. “I want to finish the season playing. Three weeks and I’ll be playing.”
Of course head coach Lindsey Hunter later dismissed that by saying “That’s just Gortat being Gortat.”
After this season Gortat will be entering the final year of his contract as he’s set to make $7,727,280 through the 2013-2014 season. It remains uncertain at this point whether the Suns will actually trade Gortat however, they have every reason to.
Gortat will be 30-years of age by the end of next season. If the Suns elected to keep Gortat throughout next season they’ll be faced with an ultimatum in the summer of 2014, sign the aging center to a long-term deal, or let him walk away for nothing. The Suns future is relatively bleak as it is, and the last thing they can afford to do is to let their most valuable trade-chip walk away for nothing.
On the flip-side, signing Gortat to a long-term deal isn’t the solution neither. If this season has proven anything it’s that much of Gortat’s success was predicated upon the brilliance of Steve Nash. The difference in Gortat’s statistics between last season and this season speaks for itself.
2011-2012: FG%: 55.5% PPG: 15.4 RPG: 10 PER: 21.21
2012-2013: FG%: 52.1% PPG: 11.1 RPG: 8.5 PER: 15.65
The Suns absolute best move in this scenario would be to shut Gortat down for the remainder of the season. Give him extra time to allow his foot heal 150%, and find a deal for in the off-season. This upcoming draft is stocked with quality big-men, and wing players, two of the Suns most vital needs.
In a bitter-sweet sense, despite the fact that the Suns have been winning quite a few games lately, it’s hurt their draft-position. A couple of weeks ago the Suns were positioned to snare the third pick in the draft, now the Suns are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the sixth worst record which means the two clubs are tied for the sixth pick.
Marcin Gortat may not be the future of the Suns but if the Suns front-office are intelligent, opportunistic, and savvy, they could flip Gortat for a HUGE piece of the Phoenix Suns moving forward.