- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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Restricted free-agent center Marcin Gortat flew to Dallas on Thursday after giving the Mavericks a verbal commitment to sign an offer sheet with them Wednesday, according to NBA front-office sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks are bringing Gortat to town to tour the area and the team's facilities after extending him an offer believed to be worth Dallas' full mid-level exception -- which could translate to a five-year deal, with a first-year salary of roughly $5.8 million -- in hopes of dissuading the Orlando Magic from matching the offer.
Gortat averaged just 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season and 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds during the Magic's run to the NBA Finals, but his opportunities in Orlando were limited behind All-Star center Dwight Howard.
Since free agency commenced at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday, Gortat has received strong interest from the other two Texas teams (Houston and San Antonio) as well as Atlanta, Cleveland, Indiana and Oklahoma City, sources said.
Orlando will have seven days to match any offer sheet Gortat signs Wednesday, the first day free agents are allowed to sign new contracts. The Magic have stressed their intent to match offers for the 6-foot-11 native of Poland but doing so would almost certainly send them well into luxury-tax territory.
The Magic's other key player on the open market -- unrestricted free agent Hedo Turkoglu -- traveled Thursday to Portland, where he is expected to receive a five-year offer worth an estimated $50 million that the Magic are highly unlikely to compete with after trading for Vince Carter last week.
Losing Gortat and Turkoglu would mean that five players from Orlando's primary rotation last season -- when you add in Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie -- will have left the team in the wake of Carter's arrival.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, can only hope that gambling their entire mid-level exception on a reserve center works out better this season than it did last summer. That's when Dallas signed DeSagana Diop to a similar contract, only to ship Diop to Charlotte for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins in January after he failed to claim the minutes under Rick Carlisle that Diop had under Avery Johnson during Dallas' run to the 2006 NBA Finals.
After launching an aggressive recruitment of Gortat at the first allowable minute of free agency, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey switched his focus Thursday to Trevor Ariza once it became clear that the Mavericks would be landing Gortat's verbal commitment. By night's end, Houston had secured a verbal commitment from Ariza.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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