Marc Berman of the Post says New York has an interest in signing Marcin Gortat with their Mid Level Exception. I would expect some Knick fans to have flashbacks to the summer of 2005, when the team signed Jerome James. But I think Gortat is miles away from James.
Player Year G FGA FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS TS% eFG% Gortat 2009 69 8.8 2.1 .583 4.5 8.5 13.1 0.7 0.8 2.3 1.2 5.0 11.2 57.3 56.3 James 2005 268 10.0 2.9 .617 2.9 5.3 8.3 0.9 0.7 3.0 2.9 7.2 11.6 51.7 49.3
On the surface they are both defensive minded 7 footers coming off extended playoff runs. Neither player was a main cog in their team’s success (James averaged 16.6 mpg, Gortat 12.6), and neither could hit their free throws. But Gortat distinguishes himself from James in a few key areas. Marcin snared 13.1 boards per 36 minutes to Jerome’s 8.3, a remarkable difference. And although he scores at about the same rate, he’s superior in regards to efficiency (TS%: 57.3 to 51.7%) and turns the ball over less than half the time (TO/36: 1.2 to 2.9). Gortat would also be 5 years younger than James was, and at 25 years of age is just entering his prime. And if you’re worried about his propensity to eat snacks, Gortat’s father was an Olympic boxer (two time bronze medalist) so he probably knows a thing about nutrition.
Even if you attribute Gortat’s numbers to low minute count (he has yet to play 1000 minutes in the league) and Orlando’s success (playing with Lewis, Turkoglu, etc open the floor) and adjust them downward, he still projects to an above average starting center. Trying to find similar players yields few results. One attempt picked up Tree Rollins, Tyson Chandler, and Andrew Bynum. Not bad company at all. Marcin could be a steal for the Knicks, but they have to be mindful of their cap. Unless they move Lee, Curry, Robinson, or Jeffries, the team can’t afford to sign the young center without ruining their free agent chances in 2010.