Marcin Gortat, the Orlando Magic's backup center, is unhappy with his role on the team and wants to play outside the shadow of All-Star center Dwight Howard, reports Brian Schmitz. Gortat sounds diplomatic, but resolute, in his statements to Schmitz:
"I love the organization, but I'm not going to stay here being a back-up player and playing five minutes a game," Gortat said. "I hope people understand that. I know I can have a bigger role on another team."
And a bit later (brackets mine):
"I really don't think about this now. But at some point, I want to have the chance to sit down with coach [Stan] Van Gundy and tell him how I feel and where I want to go with my career," Gortat said. "I'm 100 percent sure coach will understand and will do the right thing for me and the team.
"My agent will talk to Otis [Smith, the Magic's general manager]. But it's too early to say anything."
I suppose we should have expected the Polish Machine to get fed up with his lack of playing time one day. Van Gundy seems reluctant to play him alongside Howard, so Gortat will only have a 10-to-15-minute window to play each night, unless Howard's in foul trouble. As Schmitz notes, Howard has manage to avoid fouling excessively of late, relegating Gortat to only a handful of minutes. The emergence of Brandon Bass, an undersized power forward who can play center occasionally, has also contributed to Gortat's reduced role.
Schmitz is careful to note that Gortat is not issuing a trade demand per se, a fact we should bear in mind as we proceed.
Despite his unhappiness, it seems unlikely that Gortat's wish to move to another team will come to fruition this season. His status as a Base Year Compensation player makes him difficult to move, as of his contract is worth different amounts to the teams involved with the trade. Nevertheless, it appears inevitable that the Magic will trade Gortat sometime next summer. Eddy and I have beat that drum for a while, for what it's worth.
Another factor that could complicate any efforts to trade Gortat is his level of play this year. As I wrote last week, Gortat's rebounding and shooting touch at the rim have declined so far this season. Van Gundy told Schmitz that Gortat hasn't played with as much energy this year as in seasons past, a statement Gortat doesn't dispute:
Gortat, 25, concedes he is tired and, moreover, "burned out mentally." He traces his physical and mental fatigue, in part, to playing big minutes with the Polish national team this summer after the Magic's season ended in mid-June.
This development is sad, as Gortat has endeared himself to Magic fans with his hard work and productivity (that second part is important; if working hard were all that mattered, he'd just be Ryan Bowen) over the last two seasons. However, the story has a ring of inevitability to it, which should make it easier for us to accept.