I'm writing this in a hurried fashion before I run off to an important dinner, but I think it will suffice.
Of all the free agent centers out there, Marcin Gortat makes the most sense for Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets. It looks like Morey sees it that way as well. According to Chris Duncan of Yahoo! Sports, our GM has been recruiting with quite the personal touch:
"...Morey made the hard pitch, showing up at Gortat’s home in Orlando just after midnight at virtually the exact minute teams were officially allowed to begin negotiating with free agents.
Morey announced the meeting on his Facebook page and urged fans to leave notes for Gortat at an e-mail address—firstname.lastname@example.org. Morey said that within 10 minutes of his face-to-face meeting with Gortat, more than 100 e-mails had already arrived and the number climbed above 2,000 by noon Wednesday.
"He was reading them with some intensity," Morey said. "He was impressed by the number of messages and how much the fans seem to care about their team. I knew Rockets fans would come through."
Gortat’s agent, Guy Zucker, said Morey even showed up in Orlando with a Rockets jersey with Gortat’s name on it. He also said his client was interested in the Rockets.
"We had planned to meet teams later on in the process," Zucker said. "So this was a big surprise. The jersey with his name on it really caught him off-guard."
Morey said the Rockets made Gortat an offer, but would not divulge details."
So far, so good. We all know how classy our Boy Genius is. The only question is: What is it about Gortat that makes Morey so interested?
Jonathan Feigen of the Chronicle told us earlier this season that the Rockets were looking to add an "athletic center" to the roster. I threw out BJ Mullens as an option, but he was too much of a project for Morey to give him any consideration. After selecting three guards in the draft, Morey left himself no choice but to search for a big man on the free agent market. Who fits the bill as an "athletic center" more than anyone else available? Marcin Gortat. The dude can move.
Draft Express says he has a 36 inch vertical. That's higher than his soon-to-be former running mate Dwight Howard. He can also run the floor extremely well for his size. As far as athletic big men go, Gortat is up there with the best of them.
Gortat's strengths as a basketball player lie in his post defense and his rebounding ability. One broadcaster called Marcin "The Sponge," since nearly every ball that clanked off the rim during that game was absorbed by the Polish Hammer. He's also a polished defender and can use his size and quickness to body up nearly any opposing center in the league.
The only thing holding him back from stardom are his shortcomings on offense. He's just not there yet.
Marcin doesn't have much of a jump shot. His post moves are raw and rarely used. In other words, he is much more Dikembe Mutombo than he is Yao Ming. That's perfectly fine by me, because whether you think so or not, Marcin still gets the job done.
We all know that Daryl loves statistics. Try this, from Dave Berri of the Wages of Wins journal, via SB Nation's own Third Quarter Collapse:
Here is an idea that might be filed under "thinking outside the box."
Looking back at Table One we see one very productive player who is not getting minutes. As I noted last December, Marcin Gortat has demonstrated in very limited minutes that he can help. At that time Gortat has posted a 0.267 WP48 in 133 minuutes. Gortat has now played 321 minutes and his WP48 is 0.269. The sample is still quite small. But it looks like Gortat - who currently is the second most productive player on a per-minute basis on the Magic (if we ignore the 29 minutes Adonal Foyle has played)- can help.
Obviously, though it is most likely through his defense, Marcin makes some sort of impact.
It's too early to write off his offensive game, however. True, Gortat may never possess the inside-outside game that is demanded of most centers in today's game. But that doesn't mean that he'll become useless on offense. If Luis Scola can develop an effective post game in two years, a much better athlete, such as Gortat, can most likely do the same.
All it takes is one consistent move for a bruiser like Gortat to become competent on offense. Scola made the bank hook his move on the block. What if Marcin, like Dwight Howard, developed a tiny jump hook? Or what if he borrowed Scola's move? Combine that with the 4-6 points per game that he can potentially score off rebounds or on the break, and you've got yourself a capable starter, much less a back-up center. It certainly won't be easy for Gortat to make this adjustment, but he is young and has a lot of room to grow. Honestly, there is nowhere to go but up for Marcin Gortat. That's the way Daryl Morey sees it, and he'll be willing to pay.