Gortat allows Nene to shift back to forward

Gortat allows Nene to shift back to forward
October 26, 2013, 4:30 pm
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What factors led to the Wizards trade for Gortat ?

Perhaps no player is going to welcome Marcin Gortat to the Wizards more warmly than Nene.

Saturday, less than 24 hours after the Wizards traded Emeka Okafor and a conditional 2014 first-round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns to get him, Nene was glowing.

"Now we have a true center. Look at my face. I can answer the question easy," said Nene, who started five of seven preseason games in the middle with Okafor out indefinitely with a herniated disk in his neck. "He's going to help us a lot. He's a veteran. He has a (very high) IQ. He knows how to play. 

"We feel sad for Emeka. He was a great teammate. But we need the position (filled). They did an amazing job," Nene said, alluding to the Wizards' front office and president Ernie Grunfeld. "They surprised me."

Gortat traveled to D.C. later in the day and the Wizards will have Sunday off. They'll likely see him at Verizon Center on Monday, before leaving Tuesday for the 2013-14 season opener at the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday (CSN, 7:30 p.m. ET).

"We're going to be a big team once again. We can move Nene back to his natural position at the power forward. It gives us a lot more flexibility, a lot more versatility. We can really big. We can go smaller," Grunfeld said. "We can even play Al (Harrington) and Nene and Gortat together and go really big. …It gives us another solid veteran who's a good defender. He runs the floor well. He's a good rebounder. And he's an experienced player."

Still, parting ways with Okafor was difficult. He was a key piece in the Wizards' top 10 scoring defense last season, but there was too much uncertainty with his status. He missed all of training camp and preseason and there's no indication that he'll be ready to play anytime soon.

Gortat, who was a backup for Dwight Howard with the Orlando Magic from 2007-10 before being traded to Phoenix where he played for the last three -- and part of it with with Steve Nash -- gives the Wizards a different look.

"He does bring a better offensive game. Mek was a better anchor and defensive presence for us to rebound the ball and definitely block shots," Wall said. "(Gortat) knows the game. I've seen him run the pick-and-roll with Steve Nash for a couple of years. He can definitely finish. He can definitely run the floor as a big man. Definitely can knock down shots. … Just glad to have another piece and another body that we need I feel like to be in the a contender in the playoffs."

Kevin Seraphin will continue in his backup role at center. Harrington is no longer concerned about having to gain weight to help out after he shed pounds in the offseason to help his knees. Gortat is expected to help pick up the pace of practice, too.

"The bigs like it because it gives them an extra body, especially in practice. They like that idea of him come Monday they'll be another player on the floor," Wittman said. "They understand we were a little light up front. … This isn't in February or January. This is at the start where we can get him on board with us pretty quickly. I think our players are really excited. Their mood today was great.

"He's going to fit in well like that with John and he's got good hands. What I have seen of him as an opposing coach. We got to get him acclimated to what we're doing and his teammates then we'll see where we're at."