Originally written November 19, 2012 on Celtics Town:
The Celtics are reportedly very interested in Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat.Fair warning: Like most speculative posts, this one is going to be full of quotes so that when I make a claim I can cover my ass by saying “Look! Someone else said it first!”Look, someone else reported that Kenyon Martin to the Celtics might be a thing first! From the estimable Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:Boston coach Doc Rivers met with [Darko] Milicic recently and told him to take time to make a decision on his family and future, sources said. Milicic had been productive in the preseason, but has fallen behind Jason Collins in the Celtics’ rotation.The Celtics had considered signing free-agent forward Kenyon Martin this offseason, but ultimately chose Collins, Chris Wilcox and Milicic over him. Some Celtics’ veterans have been pushing for the team to sign Martin.Boston hasn’t completely ruled out an eventual conversation with Martin about a role on the team, but the most likely scenario would be for the Celtics to hold onto the roster spot and see who else might become available in the next couple of months.The Celtics have several similar forward-types to Martin, and would likely try to exhaust all possibilities among backup centers.Martin would make a lot of sense for this team. His somewhat combative attitude, as long as it doesn’t direct itself inward at his teammates (and this would be a concern), would mirror Boston’s. His defense-first mentality would be an asset to a struggling defensive team (the Celtics are currently 21st in points allowed per 100 possessions). He is a decent rebounder (8 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career), although his production has declined with his age. There would, of course, be concerns about his age and health, but the player he would replace (Darko Milicic) wasn’t getting any playing time either, so if Martin didn’t end up playing very much, it wouldn’t be a huge loss.So the Kenyon Martin rumors are definitely a thing, since Woj reported them. But Marcin Gortat, if the rumors are true, would be a much, much bigger deal.For starters, Gortat sounds extremely unhappy with his role in Phoenix. From a translated interview with Gortat on Gothic Ginobili:A lot has changed in the Suns since last season. Marcin Gortat: Unfortunately, in my case – for worse. I’m certainly not the player I was last season, I need to find my place in the new order. I’m still capable of helping this team, and regularly recording a double double, but  when the ball sticks to one person on offence, it’s hard to find a good rhythm.Coach Alvin Gentry told me that the main post option was Luis Scola. You, on the other hand, are number one on defense. MG: Unfortunately… I’ve been doing the dirty work all my life, and now I have to come back to that. I will fight for what’s mine. I’ll try to prove to the coach that I can play an important role in the offence. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m even an option for Gentry. He doesn’t even take me into consideration. The situation is critical. We’re playing the same thing we’ve been playing last year, but the truth is we have a completely different set of players. I don’t think it really works.  I can’t get frustrated now though, I have to stay positive.And then, from the same GG article:Additionally, the portal reports Gortat rejected an extension for the 2014-15 season, and might be traded, as the Magic, Mavs, Bulls and Celtics are interested in his services. Yikes. Gortat’s comments are worth noting for anyone following the Suns franchise and its solid Polish center.First of all, it’s hilarious that the Magic are interested in Gortat’s services since he played in Orlando for four seasons until he was traded because he wasn’t happy backing up one “Dwight Howard.”But more importantly, it’s pretty evident why the Celtics would be interested in Gortat. He’s a solid defender whose defensive numbers have taken a huge hit playing for a bad defensive team in Phoenix. He’s an excellent rebounder, currently averaging 11.4 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career. He’s also a very solid offensive center when paired with a competent pick and roll point guard like Rondo (0.86 ppp in P&R Ball Handler situations). So Gortat makes a lot of sense for this team, more so than Martin who is more of a power forward than a center.The question: Who would Boston be willing to trade for Gortat? Either Bass or Sullinger might make sense (although both would be painful to part with), but Phoenix is well-stocked at power forward with Luis Scola and second-year prospect Markieff Morris and Bass, by league rule, can’t be traded until January 15.That leaves Avery Bradley as the most likely candidate, and after the Celtics turned their entire season around when he entered the starting lineup last year, this would seem like a foolhardy deal if it was completed before Bradley got a chance to try to perform with Boston’s current lineup. None of Boston’s current shooting guards are as talented as Bradley defensively, so trading him would be tantamount to accepting the shoddy perimeter defense we’ve seen so far this year.The problem with any of these projections, of course, is that Danny Ainge is an unpredictable GM. So hold onto your hats. This could get interesting.Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
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