The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Gortat averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds last season. He is entering his eighth NBA season, and has averaged 8.6 points and 6.9 rebounds while playing for Orlando, Toronto and Phoenix.
In a news release announcing the deal, Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld referred to Gortat as a “very consistent and productive inside presence” who “pushes us further toward our goal of becoming a playoff team.”
Okafor, the 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year, has been sidelined indefinitely by a herniated disk in his neck. He arrived in Washington before last season in a trade from New Orleans.
With a young, dynamic pair of guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal, along with rookie small forward Otto Porter, the Wizards were in need of help from a big body as they try to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007-08.
Washington went 29-53 last season, missing out on the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. Since their last trip to the postseason _ in 2007-08, when Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler were still on the roster _ the Wizards haven’t even won 30 games in a season once. They had a low of 19 wins in 2008-09.
But they’ve overturned the roster in recent years, rebuilding around Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, who recently signed an $80 million extension. Beal and Porter both were the No. 3 overall pick.
The Suns, meanwhile, went 25-57 last season and are embarking on a similar project with an eye to the future. Friday’s trade is the latest in a flurry of moves by new general manager Ryan McDonough, formerly Danny Ainge’s top aide with the Boston Celtics.
The Suns now could have their own pick, Indiana’s and Minnesota’s, in addition to Washington’s, in the first round of next year’s draft, which McDonough said in a news release “is shaping up to be the best draft in a decade.”
He also made reference to Okafor’s possible contributions “when and if he is able to return from injury.”
AP Sports Writer Robert Baum in Phoenix contributed to this report.