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Phoenix Suns GM: Draft pick, depth led to Marcin Gortat trade

LISTEN: Ryan McDonough, Suns General Manager

The trade that sent Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee to the Washington Wizards for Emeka Okafor and a first-round pick shouldn’t really have come as much of a surprise.

After all, the Phoenix Suns’ roster needed a makeover, and new GM Ryan McDonough has shown no hesitancy to make it happen.

“It’s a deal that came together, really, over the past week,” McDonough told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Friday. “We knew there’d be a lot of interest in Gortat.”

McDonough said the 29-year-old Gortat, who had spent the better part of the last three seasons in Phoenix and averaged 11.1 points with 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game last season, is one of the top 15 centers in the NBA. So, when Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld called him up and expressed interest, a deal was hashed out.

“We’ve been going back and forth for a few days and you never know if a deal like this is going to get done or not,” McDonough said. “We wanted a pick.

“We had, potentially three first-round picks in this 2014 draft that’s shaping up to be one of the best in a decade, but we wanted to add one more if we could.”

It was with that in mind that McDonough pressed to include the pick, and once the lottery protections were agreed to in a way that satisfied both clubs, a deal was struck.

But the desire to add another pick came at the expense of Gortat, who was penciled in to start for the Suns but was also set to become a free agent after the season. Because while Okafor is certainly a capable player when healthy, the fact of the matter is right now he is out indefinitely with a neck injury. And with rookie Alex Len still working his way back from ankle surgery, it would appear that second-year pro Miles Plumlee, acquired in the deal that sent Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers, will get the nod.

“His emergence over the past few months since we made the trade with Indiana and his play in Summer League and preseason, that was one of the main reasons we decided to go ahead and do this deal,” he said. “We feel like he’s a starting center in the NBA.”

Plumlee appeared in just 14 games for the Pacers last season, averaging 0.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in nearly four minutes per contest, but has impressed Suns brass since joining the team.

McDonough added that in Plumlee and Len he believes the team has two young, starting-caliber centers, and along with Channing Frye the team has enough depth to handle the position going forward.

As for Okafor, who averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season, he said there is no timetable for when the former number-two overall pick will be able to return to the court.

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