New Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough undeniably inherited a rebuilding project when he joined the franchise, so when Phoenix selected 20-year-old center Alex Len with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, people around the NBA began to wonder if 29-year-old veteran big man Marcin Gortat would be flipped for long-term assets. McDonough addressed the rumors in a recent interview with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620, and the young GM insisted that he is not looking to trade Gortat -- who is entering the final year of his contract (via ArizonaSports.com):
"Well, I'm certainly not looking to move Marcin," McDonough said Thursday. "We think he's a top-15 starting center in the NBA, and those guys are hard to find.
"We love his ability to rebound, to screen-and-roll, to finish around the basket, he's a pretty tough guy -- he's strong, he's athletic. Like I said, those guys are hard to find."
Of course, that radio interview occurred just one day after the team officially announced and executed a three-team trade to send veteran shooting guard Jared Dudley to the Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler. McDonough is clearly willing to deal away aging assets for players with higher upside, but he noted in the same interview that the team intends to bring Alex Len along slowly during his first seasons in the NBA:
"I guess I understand some of the speculation when you draft a young center like we did with Alex Len, that (Gortat) might be moved or whatever, but that's certainly not something we're looking to do," McDonough said. "We feel like Alex is a guy who will take some time. He's just turned 20 years old, he's coming off of an injury, so we're going to be patient with him."
In the official press conference for the Bledsoe trade, McDonough admitted that the team is "constantly coming up with ideas of potential deals [they] might be able to make," so the comments on Gortat should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. However, his rationale for keeping the veteran center up to the trade deadline is compelling. That timetable would take the pressure off Len in the early weeks of the season and give Gortat a chance to build up his value even more while working with Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.
Maybe it's not that the Suns are against trading Gortat at all, but that they aren't open to making a move like that right now. It's hard to believe a savvy young executive like McDonough would allow a solid big man on a good contract to walk away for nothing at the end of next season, right?