PHOENIX -- Ah, remember when the Dallas Mavericks thought they had their center of the future? Before Tyson Chandler and before Brendan Haywood, Marcin Gortat was this close to crawling out from under Dwight Howard's cape and becoming a starter in Dallas.
And then the Orlando Magic stunned the league by matching the Mavs' offer and making Gortat the highest-paid backup center in the league in the summer of 2009 -- until Dallas made Haywood the highest-paid backup center last summer.
Gortat finally got out of Orlando in December as part of a multi-player trade. And, Gortat was again a backup behind Robin Lopez. But, the 6-foot-11 center from Poland has played so well, averaging 12.9 points and 8.9 rebounds while practically doubling his playing time from Orlando (15.8 mpg to 29.0 mpg), that Suns coach Alvin Gentry is considering moving Gortat into the starting lineup.
That could come as early as tonight against the Mavs, according to Paul Coro the Arizona Republic. Gortat expects to play despite breaking his nose Friday night when he smashed into Steve Nash's head. Gortat had his nose reset Saturday.
So, the matchup could be set: the once-thought-to-be center for the Mavs in Gortat against their impact center no one saw coming in Chandler.