They say everything's bigger in Texas. Things are about to get bigger in the Dallas area, as the Mavericks have tendered Orlando Magic free-agent center Marcin Gortat an offer sheet for the mid-level exception. Gortat is a restricted free agent, which gives the Magic the right to match any offer he receives in order to retain his services. However, Magic GM Otis Smith has said throughout this offseason that he would not match an offer to Gortat if it were more than $5 million. The mid-level is valued at just over that amount, meaning Gortat's days in Orlando are at an end unless Smith changes his stance.
UPDATE (this paragraph only): I goofed. This is what happens to people if they put too much stock into Smith's public comments. Monday, he said he wouldn't match anything over $5 million. However, Tim Povtak reports that Smith said, "At this point, we're matching everything that comes back to us," as recently as Wednesday. Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD also hears that the Magic will match the offer, which he believes "may be a huge mistake." What it comes down to is this: is Marcin Gortat worth up to $11 million a year? An annual salary in the $5.5 million range is more than fair for his services, but the matching luxury tax payment would severely limit the Magic's options as they try to fill-out the rest of their roster. Orlando will exceed the tax threshold no matter what it does, so it seems more wise for it to try to split its mid-level on two players in order to get a better value.
UPDATE 2 (this paragraph only): Today, Smith tells the Orlando Sentinel he won't match the offer.
Gortat, 25, played 2 seasons in Orlando, but was only a regular rotation player last year. He averaged 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in just 12.6 minutes per game backing up Dwight Howard, the Magic's All-Star center.
Gortat gives the Mavericks a solid backup to the veteran starter Erick Dampier, 33, whose contract runs for two more seasons.
We've expected that Gortat would go to Texas, but not to Dallas. When the free-agent negotiating period opened at 12:01 AM Wednesday, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey met with Gortat at the center's Orlando home. It's likely he also offered Gortat a mid-level deal. Ultimately, Gortat found Dallas' situation more appealing than Houston's, inking the offer sheet with the Mavericks instead.