Centre Marcin Gortat agreed to a five-year, $60 million US contract Tuesday to remain with the Washington Wizards, according to a person familiar with the deal, a major step in the team's quest to keep the roster intact as much as reasonably possible following the end of a playoff drought.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can't be signed until July 10 under NBA free agency rules.
Gortat follows head coach Randy Wittman, who was given a contract extension last month, and backup point guard Andre Miller, whose contract was guaranteed for another season on Saturday, as the third piece in Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld's quest to retain the key contributors who took Washington to the post-season for the first time since 2008.
"I'm proud to say Washington will be my home," Gortat tweeted Tuesday evening.
Acquired for a first-round draft pick and injured centre Emeka Okafor as part of a five-player trade with the Phoenix Suns just before the start of the regular season, Gortat gave the Wizards a much-needed stronger presence in the paint to complement the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal while taking some of the frontcourt load from power forward Nene.
The 30-year-old "Polish Hammer" — the only player from Poland in the NBA — averaged 13.2 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds, missed only one game and became a vocal locker-room leader. He was in the final year of his contract and became a free agent Tuesday, but he had made it clear he wanted to return to the Wizards, often speaking about next season as if it were a given that he would be back. Washington had to act quickly because Gortat was one of the top big men on the open market.
The next priority for the Wizards is small forward Trevor Ariza, the team's best 3-point shooter and best defender. Ariza also is expected to attract several suitors as a free agent.
"Got my man (at)MGortat back now waitin for my bro (at)TrevorAriza...Come on !!" Wall tweeted.