WAKING UP with the Wizards on Tuesday, the eve of the regular season opener at the Detroit Pistons ...
Of all things Marcin Gortat said when he had his first practice with his new team, this was the most striking: He wants to play for a winner.
Think about that for a moment. The Wizards are being called a winner by the 6-11 center, entering his his seventh season, who went to the NBA Finals just four years ago with the Orlando Magic.
How times have changed. The Wizards open the 2013-14 season on Wednesday (CSN, 7:30 p.m. ET). Gortat should be in the starting lineup though coach Randy Wittman was non-committal when asked about it.
"I would say (that) is the No. 1 thing," Gortat said about leaving the 25-win Phoenix Suns in a trade that put him in Washington over the weekend. "It's tough to be on a team that's starting rebuilding. It's not easy to lose 50, 60 games a year. Quite honestly, you can get tired of the that. The year is really long and you have different situations in the locker room.
"Having an opportunity like that, coming here to Washington and getting to play with good players like John Wall and Nene, it's a huge opportunity for me and my career. I want to be a winner. I want to be known as a winner. The first few years of my career I was spoiled by (then-Magic coach) Stan Van Gundy winning 50-plus games every year, but unfortunately things didn't go well for me in the past 2-3 years. Hopefully I'm going to be back now."
The Wizards only won 29 games last season, but they've added Al Harrington and Eric Maynor to a roster that is now strengthened by Gortat's presence. All they talk about here is playoffs, where they haven't ventured since 2008.
The Suns have gutted the roster as they rebuild, collecting draft picks such as the protected first-round choice the Wizards gave up in addition to Emeka Okafor to get Gortat.