Marcin Gortat still savors every trip back to Central Florida during the regular season.
The former Orlando Magic center spent Thursday night at his Orlando-area offseason home, drove to Amway Center in one of his beloved cars for Friday morning's shootaround and then suited up Friday night for the Washington Wizards when they faced the Magic.
"This place is special for me, and I definitely feel like I'm at home here," Gortat said. "It's kind of weird, too, to come from your own house to the gym and change in the visiting locker room. It's different, but it's definitely fun. It brings a lot of memories."
Gortat, who began the day averaging 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds, has helped the Wizards clinch a playoff berth for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
He will become an unrestricted free agent in July.
It will be the first time he's not been under contract with an NBA team since the end of the 2008-09 season; in July 2009, as a restricted free agent, he signed an offer sheet from the Dallas Mavericks, and the Magic matched the offer to retain him.
How will he approach the process when the postseason is over?
"I'm probably going to just listen to the whole drama and just pay attention to everything that's going on," Gortat said. "Obviously, I'm going to be on a hotline with my agent, but that's going to be after the season."
During the offseason, Gortat often works out alongside current Magic players and occasionally plays pickup basketball with them, too.
Once, Gortat even invited a few Magic players to a paintball game.
Who's the best paintball player?
"Hands-down me," Gortat answered, smiling. "Out of them, probably Moe Harkless. Kyle [O'Quinn] was dying all the time."
On Friday, Wizards power forward Al Harrington played at Amway Center for the second time since the Magic released him last summer.
The Magic acquired Harrington in August 2012 in the blockbuster four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. At the time, Harrington was recovering from a staph infection in his right knee.
Harrington eventually played for the Magic on Feb. 26, 2013, and Harrington recently revealed in a first-person account to Bleacher Report that one of the reasons he wanted to play that season was that he felt Magic general manager Rob Hennigan didn't think he could come back after the infection and play again.
"Orlando was more about rebuilding, but they could have been more professional about my situation," Harrington wrote in the piece. "In fact, the general manager, Rob Hennigan, told my agent that I was done, saying I 'cannot play.' Those were his exact words. And I was like, 'He has some nerve.' He's a 32-year-old young executive, and I've been in the league longer than him, I probably know more than him, and he's going to tell my agent I'm done and not think my agent is going to tell me that."
Harrington declined to elaborate on Friday.
Asked to comment about Harrington's remarks, Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel, "We certainly wish Al well and appreciate his professionalism while in a Magic uniform."
Orlando center Nik Vucevic sat out his fourth consecutive game when the Magic faced the Wizards.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said that Vucevic, who has a sore left Achilles' tendon, will join the team on its upcoming road trip to Brooklyn and Chicago.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun