Now that the NBA draft is over, the full-court press is on to convince Marcin Gortat to remain with the Wizards, who are sending a contingent to Poland before the free-agent negotiation period opens July 1, CSNwashington.com has confirmed with multiple persons with knowledge of the situation.
Coach Randy Wittman and Tommy Sheppard, senior vice president of basketball operations, are leaving Friday to visit Gortat who has been coordinating basketball camps across his homeland. Wizards assistant coach Pat Sullivan already has been there assisting Gortat, who is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro -- and his first in Washington -- with 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Gortat was traded before the 2013-14 season by the Phoenix Suns just before the tip of the regular season and helped lead the Wizards to a 44-38 record and the second-round of the playoffs for the first time in nine years.
Teams are free to negotiate with free agents starting July 1 and can come to verbal agreements during this moratorium. The deals become official July 10, which is when the new salary cap figure -- expected to rise from $3 million-$5 million -- is set after an audit of finances. The cap was $58.7 million last season with a luxury tax line at $71.7 million.
That extra cap room is why the Wizards are optimistic they can retain Gortat, who made $7.7 million, and Trevor Ariza. Ariza earned the same money as Gortat and is coming off his career-best season.
Of course, they'll be visiting with Ariza before July 1, too.