Knicks Want Gortat

Marc Berman is reporting that the Knicks are going to look at bringing in a center this summer with the MLE.  Marcin Gortat, Dwight Howard’s backup, is a guy that they reportedly will go after pretty hard.  Here is what Berman had to say:

“Though the Knicks likely will take a combo-type guard in the June 25 NBA Draft, Knicks team president Donnie Walsh will eye a center with his $5 million mid-level exception during free agency, and Orlando’s 7-foot backup Marcin Gortat is very high on his list, The Post has learned.

The Knicks had no interior defensive presence, and that’s Gortat’s strength. He also blocks shots and rebounds. (The Knicks were last in blocked shots the past two years).

The Polish big man originally was drafted by coach Mike D’Antoni’s Suns in the second round of 2005, but they traded his rights. Gortat probably will not be re-signed because he plays a smallish role as Dwight Howard’s backup and the Magic can’t pay him accordingly.

Gortat said the Knicks could be an ideal spot. Gortat (four points, three rebounds) played 15 minutes last night as Magic coach Stan Van Gundy often used a twin-tower alignment to combat the Lakers’ size.

Magic general manager Otis Smith can match any offer, but said he knows it will be a financial challenge to retain Gortat.

“He’s got the best job in America, playing behind my best player, playing 8 to 10 minutes,” Smith said. “He goes out and does his job and probably has the best work ethic of anyone in the locker room. Can he start for another team? Yeah he can.

“I’ll just deal with it and the market will dictate where he goes,” Smith added. “I would like to keep him on our team, but it depends if someone wants to make him a starter and figures out what’s my breaking point. I’m sure teams will make a run for him.”

Gortat averaged 12 minutes, scoring 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. Van Gundy, whose Magic team lost 101-96 in overtime and trails the best-of-seven series, 2-0, said he may play him more in The Finals to combat the Lakers’ size advantage.

“I love New York, I can tell you that,” Gortat said. “It was the first city I landed when I landed in the states five years ago. I love Coach D’Antoni and I know [Danilo] Gallinari from Europe.”

I was afraid this was going to happen.  I have heard people say that Gortat plays a similar game to Dwight Howard in terms of athleticism and defensive prowess.  I do not see it like that.

During the season and during the first round of the playoffs, I thought highly of Gortat and his potential as a possible Knick because I figured that he could come cheap.  But as the Magic have stretched themselves into the NBA finals., Gortat has received more spotlight.  Now there is talk that he can receive a full MLE deal.  But with a bunch of veteran free agents this summer that might face MLE deals, I have to question if Gortat is worth close to $6 million.

The Knicks are desperate for a center.  If Donnie Walsh believes that Gortat is the answer, then I will trust him.  But Gortat, 25, played just over 12 minutes per game this season.  In the playoffs, those numbers jumped slightly.  Without a real track record, is he worth that kind of money?

I would love to see Walsh go after RFA Ryan Hollins, who I think can be a good shot-blocker and come at 1/2 the price of Gortat.  But if Gortat is the guy, I cannot complain too much.  He has the ability to block shots.  But can he play 30-35 minutes a night?  If Donnie thinks so, then I am on board.  Bring him here.  If not, then spend the money in better places.

With Gortat being worth the MLE, I am up in the air.