Frustration is at a boiling point for the Phoenix Suns as they are struggling to stay above water early on. Instead of looking in a mirror for a resolution, center Marcin Gortat decided to make some public, pointed comments about his coach.
It is not shocking or alarming that Marcin Gortat spoke to the media and said some borderline controversial things. He has always been overly honest and a quote machine for the media. Then again the timing is not ideal as the team is in a down spell that will trigger some changes to the rotation and the target was eye opening.
Insert foot into mouth and Gortat might be a part of those changes as soon as this week.
In an interview with Marcin Harasimowicz (translated for our convenience at the Gothic Ginobili) the Polish big man let out his frustration and had some very pointed things to say about the early season woes.
Nothing he said was inflammatory or out of line. All of it was actually pretty accurate and honestly right on point, which is what we always criticize athletes for not doing often enough. Everyone clamors for honesty, we get it, and then it is free reign to bash them when the honesty is not what we want to here. The proverbial "we" is a collection of the fans and the media, who in any practical sense of the word are fans themselves.
Is the offense clicking? No.
Does Gortat have perfect chemistry down with Goran Dragic? No.
Would everyone including Gortat want to have Steve Nash back? Yes.
There was nothing wrong with what Gortat said, except the timing and the fact that he gently threw his coach under the bus as subtly, and as Polish-ly incorrect as he could.
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.
Now that would be front page news from a franchise player. If Nash said that last year the world be a buzz, but for someone the caliber of Gortat it comes across as sour grapes. His coach has in large part led a cast of average players to above average results including a trip to the Western Conference Finals. He knows how to coach a cast and Gortat seems to want more.
Saying things like that imply that you are playing great basketball and are not being rewarded for your hard effort. One remark is isolated and venting frustration like a dart wielder without a target, but he continued on throwing those darts with pretty clear direction:
We've talked before the season started. He said he expects me to play defense, rebound, block shots and quarterback the defense. He also said he wanted me to set up in the paint and wait for my shots. And I'm still waiting...
He is waiting for his touches. The team is struggling as a whole on both ends of the floor and he is concerned about getting his in throughout the game.
I don't know if it will change anything. But I'll surely have a chat with him.
The change that needs to happen is more internal, not external with the amount of touches or shots you get, but rather the effort given each night on both ends of the floor.
Gortat is not having a banner season this year despite starting off very strong rebounding, scoring, and blocking every shot that he was in the general vicinity of. Since then he has fallen back to earth with a 24.1% defensive rebounding rate (10th among centers). Gortat is regularly out of position for rebounds and has even admitted to blinding running towards the rim on the defensive end out of habit and instinct.
Offensively, this team is struggling, whether that has anything to do with Gortat and his shots is besides the point. The team has a plethora of shot takers in Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris, and even Jared Dudley with only one shot creator in Dragic.
With all of those shot takers their needs to be a player that takes care of the glass and defends the paint, two indelible traits of Gortat. The problem therein lies that he seems to be effected by playing well on defense and not being rewarded on offense.
"You should be able to separate them. They're two difference facets of the game. Playing defense and rebounding and blocking shots has nothing to do with what you do on the other end. See Kenneth Faried." -- Head Coach Alvin Gentry
Traditionally the route taken to get more touches on offense does not begin with throwing the coach -- the ultimate shot caller -- under the bus in the media.
Did Gortat know what he was doing? Of course he did, he has been in the NBA for far too long going on six years now and the language barrier is only an excuse for so long. The comments may have been in the heat of a moment, but they resonated.
Coach Gentry isn't a lame duck coach according to his superiors, but by definition, he is a lame duck coach without a contract beyond this season. These things, if they escalate, can be a part of the determining factor of whether or not Gentry is here down the road. Gortat does not have that type of pull in the organization, but stranger things have happened in this league.