A day after acquiring Marcin Gortat in a trade with the Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and Coach Randy Wittman were more confident about their organization’s playoff aspirations. But the most exuberant response might have come from one Wizards veteran. “We have true center. Look at my face,” Nene, grinning widely, said after Saturday’s practice at Verizon Center. The Wizards’ front office “did amazing job. They surprise me, man. He is a huge [addition] to the team. Not just for me, but for the team. Help me a lot, but for the team.” Nene prefers to play power forward, and the prospect of playing center in the absence of the injured Emeka Okafor when the regular season begins Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons did not excite him. Saturday’s five-player deal that sent Okafor and a protected 2014 draft pick to the Phoenix Suns for Gortat and other extraneous parts should most directly benefit Nene, relieving his concerns about the more physical grind of playing center given his past injury woes. The enthusiasm, however, was tempered by the departure of Okafor, who is sidelined indefinitely with a herniated disk in his neck and is recovering with his family in New York. Nene, along with other teammates, understood that the Wizards had to make a business decision but hated that the team had to part with a veteran big man whose value went beyond his contributions on the floor. In his lone season in Washington, Okafor led the Wizards in rebounds per game (8.8) and games played (79) and also brought a positive attitude, a workmanlike approach and provided leadership with his actions and occasionally his words.
Wizards players, front office excited about Marcin Gortat trade
Washington Post | Oct 27