WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: Trevor Ariza #1 and Marcin Gortat #4 of the Washington Wizards rebound against Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Verizon Center on May 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat of the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — With NBA free agency underway, the Wizards now potentially face losing center Marcin Gortat and swingman Trevor Ariza, both of whom could command high-dollar contracts after career years in 2013-14.
Is it time to pay the piper and lock up both players — who undoubtedly contributed to Washington’s first playoff appearance in six seasons — with multi-million-dollar contracts?
Well, to answer that question, look no further than Wizards team owner Ted Leonsis, who wasn’t shy about how he plans to keep the team intact, as it’s currently constructed, in an interview Tuesday with The Junkies on 106.7 The Fan.
Gortat and Ariza both made around $8 million last season, host Jason Bishop noted, who asked Leonsis what it will take to keep both in Wizards uniforms for the foreseeable future.
“I can’t, because we’re in this moratorium and you’re not allowed to talk about money and the like, but all you have to do is go online and look at what comparable big men have been paid, and Gortat is 30-years-old, and kind of in his prime, and it’s his first unrestricted free agency and he’s gonna make a lot of money,” Leonsis said.
“So that’s just kind of the reality that you face, and markets decide,” he went on. “The thing about free agency is, it only takes one other team to make an offer, right? And that’s what drives up players’ costs, but it’s the reality that you have to deal with; you can’t complain, you can’t wine.
“I love when I read, ‘Here’s what I would do: I would offer him x years and x dollars. That seems fair.’ And you go, ‘Well, yes, but he has an agent and he has expectations and there’s comparables, and you end up negotiating and you try to get the best deal that you can,’ but markets kind of decide, and these players will get paid.
“And our goal is to keep our team together. We obviously have Plan Bs, if we can’t keep those players, but right now, we have two free agents that are in demand around the league. Trevor Ariza’s a really, really important player, too. He’s a very, very good defensive player. He shot very well last year. Now, he perhaps had a really, really good year because John Wall really developed, and Bradley Beal really developed.
“Gortat had good numbers because playing with players like John Wall, where you kind of perfect a pick-and-roll kind of game, and having Nene up front really helps too, because he’s such a smart player. And so, if we can keep the team together and then add to it, I think we can be a perennial playoff team, and then we can add to it as the [salary] cap goes up, and the out years, and I’m still hopeful that we can bring in a transformative-named free agent, but they want to play with teams that are really good. They want to be the piece that kind of gets you over the top.
“So our key goal right now is to keep what we have, and incrementally add to it, and then in the out years, be able to compete and bring someone in who goes, ‘Yea, this is a great situation. It’s sold out, it’s a great city, it’s got great players, and I can be someone who gets them over the top.'”