Ben Q. Rock and I were at the RDV SportsPlex, today, to cover Brandon Bass' formal introduction to the Orlando Magic and his press conference. But first, the big news coming from the organization is general manager Otis Smith's decision to match Marcin Gortat's offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks, thus bringing him back to the team. I was able to speak with Smith amongst the media and gather his thoughts on the move.
What's your motivation behind matching Marcin Gortat's offer sheet?
Two-fold, in a league that doesn't have very many centers, to have a starting center and a back-up center to hold that position down is good. Second part, we have 5 years [the length of the contract] invested in him and we do believe in protecting that asset, so bigger than anything else is what he brings to our team. Again, on occasions, this is not necessarily we tried to do a little bit last year and I think you're going to see a little bit more in the coming years, on occasion, you can foresee where we would play him and Dwight [Howard] at the same time. We'll try different things but we also trying to win a championship and in order to do that, you have to have enough tools in your shed to be able to use at different points in time during throughout the course of a season and throughout the course of a game.
I know you've said that you like to stockpile talent, is this move an example of that?
No, it's not necessarily a move to stockpile talent. I don't know if that's what I'm thinking, that we have an over-abundance of talent. We have a talented roster but I thought we had a talented roster back when we had 8 players so now we have up to 10 and we still have a talented roster. Just have to have the ability to be flexible in the NBA that's not. On a given night, some nights you need to be bigger, some nights you need to be quicker, some nights you need to force teams to matchup to our size. We've done that over the course of the year.
Is playing Howard and Gortat during the season something you like to see?
Well, what I like to see during the season is all of our guys battle because that's what you got. Competition is a great, wonderful thing so when you got Gortat, and Bass, and Anderson, all fighting for time, I mean ... you can't ask for anything more. I think those guys will determine how much time they play together. They'll do it on the practice court.
When will you plan on speaking with Marcin?
Well, he's in Poland, so I'm not necessarily sure when I'll be talking with Marcin next. I did notify his representation before talking to you guys, actually ... maybe 2 hours ago so that's the direction where we're going.
I know Gortat stated that he might not be happy trying to find minutes in Orlando. What are your thoughts on that? Is that something you're going to speak with him?
Rough life, isn't it. It's tough all over, isn't it.
Guys who have good character, once they get in the gym, their character fall back into form. Courtney is not happy about the trade going to New Jersey, but his character will carry him through so I'm not overly concerned about that part. Once he gets back into the gym, you have a tendency to earn your time.
Bringing back Marcin, do you think you match up better with Boston and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference, or did you like your team before bringing Gortat back?
I liked it before. I think what it gives you is somebody that can play those minutes behind Dwight. Not only that, but the games in which Dwight was out, Marcin was big for us so not that Dwight misses very much time, or we foresee him missing much time, but you at least have that option to go to when you start looking at viable options not matching his option for guys who perceived that we had a lot of interest in fell off the board, the [Antonio] McDyess' and the [Rasheed] Wallace's, you make an argument either way that those guys were short term, whereas Marcin is long term.
Did you think matching the offer sheet was a better option for you, given what else was in the free agent market?
Well, I didn't necessarily didn't see a lot of options. I think the options were good to start, just not a ton. There's not a lot of bigs available. We already have one in Marcin so you still have to protect the asset, [the] 25 year old center in the league.
Does signing Gortat maximize that window that you've been talking about?
Matching the offer, picking up the trade exception, there's a multitude of things ... signing Brandon Bass with a part of the mid-level, as opposed to using the trade exception, those are all things that, as an aggressive team, I think, does because it leaves you the trade exception to use if you have to use it during the course of the season if things aren't going right.
I figure, then, that you like the flexbility that you've been able to establish the past few off-seasons?
I think you have to have some flexibility. Aside from a player's contract size, the fluidity of the contracts ... can they move, can they not move ... those things, I think, are important.
Stay tuned later tonight at Third Quarter Collapse for my post containing my questions for Brandon Bass, as well as the complete transcript from the press conference.