Commentary

Best under-the-radar free agents

Updated: July 2, 2009, 12:45 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com
Marcin GortatJesse D. Garrabrant/Getty ImagesDespite averaging under four points a game, Marcin Gortat has the talent to be a starting center.

Marcin Gortat played in all 11 of the Magic's games in the Eastern Conference finals and NBA Finals in the 2009 playoffs, and didn't score more than four points in any of them. He averaged 3.8 points per game in the regular season and has exactly four double-doubles in his two-season career.

So it might be surprising to learn that as free agency opened at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday, the Houston Rockets were waiting on his doorstep. And they weren't just there to check out his seriously souped-up BMW. (He drove slowly past me leaving practice one day during the NBA Finals, and even at 10 mph the thing sounds like a jet engine.)

The Rockets aren't the only ones, either. Pitches from Dallas, New York, Atlanta and Indiana may follow in the coming hours, as teams step up their pursuit of the restricted free-agent big man.

Why such a furor over a player with such modest accomplishments? Because once one adjusts for the paltry minutes Gortat played behind all-world center Dwight Howard, it quickly becomes apparent just how effective he was this past regular season.


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