This is mildly disconcerting. It is not the $12 million per year that is really the problem. That is an acceptable amount in Gortat's market range. It is slightly on the high side but not egregiously so. It is the five years that could be the problem.
In his report, Woj mentions that the $60 million contract will echo the amount given to Nikola Pekovic last summer by the Minnesota Timberwolves. On numbers alone, it does -- Pekovic signed for exactly that amount. But Pekovic was 27 when given that contract, and about to enter his prime years. Gortat is 30 years old and about to leave them.
The upside in having Gortat has always been that he has provided great value for his money. Be it in his first two years with the Magic when he was signed for the minimum, or the five years hence in which he was playing out a mid-level exception sized contract, Gortat was either a quality backup or a good starter earning less than players comparable to him. It made him desirable in trade, desirable to have, and a desirable piece to project in the future.
But that is not going to be the case now. Gortat has peaked as a player and now represents questionable value. When Washington traded for Gortat last October, the Wizards did so as a semi-rental. They knew they would need to, and would surely want to, keep him long term. But the importance of doing that was never separate from his cost, which always needed to limit the price. If Gortat wants $12 million a year, you can go that far, but could you absolutely not stick it at three years?
Nope. Apparently it had to be five. But if they had to go that long, could they not mitigate that by going smaller, or making the guarantees conditional? 30-year-old Gortat is fine for $12 million. 34-year-old Gortat at that price is less certain.
It is hoped that the deal is misreported, or at least not fully guaranteed. This is highly unlikely, of course, but perhaps the deal will be structured so that it declines in value. Something needs to mitigate this price tag. Good centers always cost big money and there is no denying that Gortat (13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 17.6 PER, .568 true shooting percentage) is that. He's one of my favorites. I Iove Gortat as a player, and he's an extremely good one. But he is going to be one for five years? Four years? Three years, even?
If Washington is prepared to overpay two years on the back end so as to keep the good thing they have built up going, it could all be fine. If it does not hinder their spending in the future, and they are still prepared to pay what it costs to keep together and (just as importantly) improve upon the core they have built, it could all be fine. If they can accept Gortat is not worth this in a vacuum, but that this is not a vacuum and they will have to make back the difference elsewhere, that is fine too.
But Gortat just became un-tradeable. They do not want to trade Gortat one day, but things can change quickly no matter how well they have gone to date, and you need the options. Washington just lost one, and it is a risk.
On the plus side, Gortat has been hearty in his career to date, and there is no evidence to suggest that he is going to break down physically any time soon. He is still in his prime, of course, and is proven effective. The cap is going up and will continue to do so, so any over-payments will appear less so as time goes on. And, let us never forget, Gortat really is quite good.
Working with what we know, though, this is a bit much for a center in his 30s.