As the start of NBA free agency looms in just a couple days, that hasn’t kept teams from changing up their rosters in other ways. The Washington Wizards have sent center Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for guard Austin Rivers.
Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers swap Austin Rivers and Marcin Gortat
Austin Rivers Headed East
The Clippers have cleared up their logjam at the guard positions. Too many players were on their roster with last seasons acquisitions of Lou Williams and drafting Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They also hope to have back a healthy Milos Teodosic back in the fold.
Although Rivers was a key piece to the Clippers playoff run, his expiring contract made him the obvious choice to trade with all their healthy players coming back. Patrick Beverley is expected to make a full recovery from a torn ACL as well. There is simply not enough room for Rivers at this point.
Rivers situation won’t be ideal next season. He will become backup to John Wall and Bradley Beal. He looks to be one of the main reserves off the second unit along with newly drafted Troy Brown. Rivers finished last season with a career-high in points, assists and three-point field goal percentage after starting most of his games on the injury-ridden Clippers. These numbers look to decrease next year with a bench role.
Marcin Gortat Out West
The Wizards get rid of Gortat, who also has an expiring contract. This is an interesting move since the Wizards have no clear choice for a starting center next season. This could be their first move into pursuing an all-star caliber center such as DeMarcus Cousins or Clint Capela. With some mediocre finishes in the Eastern Conference the past couple of years, this could be the first move to a major shakeup.
The uncertain future of DeAndre Jordan in Los Angeles. Gortat could slide right into the starting center role should Jordan not return in a Clippers uniform. This trade marks the end of Gortat’s five-year stay in Washington. He wasn’t a surprising trade choice after finishing last season with lower point totals and field goal percentage than any of his previous years.
Both teams improved some holes for next season, however, this trade seems to be a catalyst for other big moves that could happen in the near future.