Gortat & Powe intriguing free agents for Thunder
The NBA’s free agency signing period has begun, and I don’t expect Oklahoma City to be in the market for big-name players.
Some of the names mentioned don’t fit. Chicago sharpshooter Ben Gordon doesn’t fit at all, culturally or financially. He would cost too much and require too much of a presence in the offense of a young, developing team. New York Knickerbocker power forward David Lee would cost too much money and has little defensive presence, though he does score and rebound. The Thunder needs interior defense. Utah power forward Paul Millsap is the kind of player the Thunder needs, but he likely will require too much money, and the Boomers are not going to upset their financial solidarity, in which they appear in good shape to adequately pay their young core players when contract negotiations come around.
But a couple of players seem right in the Thunder wheelhouse. Marcin Gortat and Leon Powe.
Gortat is a 7-foot, 25-year-old center from Poland who backed up Dwight Howard this past season, after playing just six games as a rookie. Gortat is a rugged defender with limited offensive skills, but rugged defense is exactly what Oklahoma City needs. The Thunder has an offensive center in Nenad Krstic, a sold-shooting 7-footer who has his moments rebounding, too. But Gortat would form a very solid center combo with Krstic. Defense and offense. Gortat doesn’t figure to command a huge salary, maybe something in the $5 million range, which would not wreck the Thunder’s payroll structure. Gortat averaged just 12 minutes a game last season but played well in the playoffs.
Powe is a 6-foot-8, 25-year-old power forward from the University of California. He has spent all three of his NBA seasons with the Boston Celtics and really impressed a year ago in the playoffs. Injuries limited him to two games for the Celtics this post-season. Powe has averaged 6.6 points , 4.2 rebounds and 14.6 minutes per game for Boston over his career. Not a great player, but potentially a solid inside presence, which the Thunder needs.
OKC is not in the playoff hunt next season. Sam Presti and Scott Brooks can’t say that, of course, but it’s true. Next season is one more year in the development of a promising team. No reason to spend a lot of money on a player who might get you from 34 to 38 wins. But a young player who in two years might help you get from 44 to 48 wins? That’s a more intriguing signing.
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