The Orlando Magic will say goodbye to backup center Marcin Gortat, unwilling to match the offer sheet that he will sign next week with the Dallas Mavericks. The price, they have decided, is too high.
The Mavericks and Gortat agreed Thursday to a multi-year offer that starts at the $5.6 million mid-level exception. He made an estimated $800,000 last season, serving as the backup to All-Star Dwight Howard.
Although the Magic liked Gortat – a restricted free agent – they have only nine players under contract for $67 million. The luxury tax, a dollar for dollar penalty designed to control league spending, is expected to start at $68 million next season. The Magic still have to sign at least four players, which makes bringing back Gortat almost cost prohibitive.
They’re already on the verge of losing free agent Hedo Turkoglu, a key player in their playoff success, who reportedly agreed Friday to a five-year, $50 million contact with Portland.
The Magic payroll is weighed down by three contracts. Rashard Lewis will make $18.8 million next season. Vince Carter, obtained last month in a trade with New Jersey, will make $16.3 million. And Howard, the franchise foundation, is scheduled to make $15.1 million.
Gortat, who also was being pursued by the Houston Rockets, averaged just 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds last season in limited playing time. His late-season showing and his performance in the playoffs created considerable interest in his talents.
The Magic already said they would be willing to pay the luxury tax for the first time in hopes of chasing a championship, but they still are looking to sign at least two more front-court players to help Howard around the basket. At the top of their list is Dallas power forward Brandon Bass.