The Phoenix Suns’ 4-7 record happens to be the second worst in the Western Conference right now and starting center Marcin Gortat is not very happy about it. In a recent interview with Marcin Harasimowicz (shown below), Gortat said some pretty brash things which will undoubtably have some reprecussions.
A lot has changed in the Suns since last season.
Marcin Gortat: Unfortunately, in my case – for worse. I’m certainly not the player I was last season, I need to find my place in the new order. I’m still capable of helping this team, and regularly recording a double double, but when the ball sticks to one person on offence, it’s hard to find a good rhythm.
Last season you’ve scored a lot of points off of Steve Nash pick and rolls. The team doesn’t play that way anymore.
MG: That’s true, but I can score in various situations. Finishing pick and rolls, in transition, from midrange, around the rim. There are a lot of options. Unfortunately, my two strongest plays – the pick and roll and post-ups have been taken away from me. It’s not easy, we have a lot of plays that don’t include me. And my chemistry with Goran Dragic hasn’t been quite equal to what I had with Steve. These are things that we need to work on.
Coach Alvin Gentry told me that the main post option was Luis Scola. You, on the other hand, are number one on defense.
MG: Unfortunately… I’ve been doing the dirty work all my life, and now I have to come back to that. I will fight for what’s mine. I’ll try to prove to the coach that I can play an important role in the offence. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m even an option for Gentry. He doesn’t even take me into consideration. The situation is critical. We’re playing the same thing we’ve been playing last year, but the truth is we have a completely different set of players. I don’t think it really works. I can’t get frustrated now though, I have to stay positive.
The Suns have a lot of players that create for themselves.
MG: We have plenty of players who like to create for themselves, but it doesn’t always work. We don’t share the ball as much as we have in previous seasons. The ball doesn’t move around the perimeter – it usually stops after one or two passes. You can’t play like this, let alone win. Basketball is a team sport. Nobody ever won a game alone.
Before the season you were promising a fight for the playoffs, but from the picture painted by the past few games, the Suns don’t seem like a top 8 team in the West.
MG: Before the season started, I was a huge optimist. I thought we’d play a completely different game. Right now, it doesn’t look good. We still have a lot to learn, and a lot to fight for. We need to fix our team defence. We can’t give up a hundred points per game. We’ll see how it works out. Right now, I’m not losing hope, there’s still a shot at the playoffs.
Did the coach honestly tell you what he expects from you?
MG: We’ve talked before the season started. He said he expects me to play defence, rebound, block shots and quarterback the defence. He also said he wanted me to set up in the paint and wait for my shots. And I’m still waiting… (laughter)
What are you expecting in the coming week?
MG: After the game against the Miami Heat, we have a longer break and some time to correct some errors in practice. It won’t be easy though.
Maybe you should have an honest conversation with Coach Gentry?
MG: I don’t know if it will change anything. But I’ll surely have a chat with him.
While in Los Angeles, have you talked to Steve Nash?
MG: Yes, he came in for a visit in the locker room. I can only sigh – too bad he isn’t with us any longer…
Ouch! I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone be this critical of their team but on the other hand, I can see where Gortat is coming from. So far this season, the 6’11” center is playing more minutes but is averaging 2.4 less field goal attempts and 1.6 less three throw attempts per game. His usage is also down from 20.79 to 15.01 which happens to be less than Brown, Beasley, Morris, Scola, Dragic, Telfair and Dudley. Sure, Gortat’s numbers are down slightly so far this season, but he’s still averaging 11 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Nevertheless, this was not the professional way of going about it and it’s definitely not something you’d expect a 28 year old/5 year veteran to say.
So now that Gortat has had his little rant, will Gentry move him to the bench as a punishment or will he start to run more of his offensive sets through Gortat? All I know is that if the Suns want to get back on track and be in a position where they can make a Playoff push, they have to sort this out as soon as possible otherwise their season could spiral out of control.
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