Washington Wizards: Whether to Re-sign Otto Porter isn’t the Question

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball over Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics in the first quarter during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Verizon Center on May 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball over Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics in the first quarter during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Verizon Center on May 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Washington Wizards fans have been in denial all week, surrounding the impending max contract for forward Otto Porter. The huge contract expected isn’t the Issue, though. Does keeping Porter make the Wizards better than last season?

After the stroke of midnight early Saturday morning, Otto Porter met with the Washington Wizards and didn’t walk away with glass slippers. Porter, not yet a prince, would test the restricted free agency market for a better offer, and bring it back to the kingdom.

Nonetheless, on Sunday, Vlade Divac flopped his way into Washington with a Kings’ ransom, offering Porter $106 million over 4 years.

Also, on Sunday, Chris Haynes reported that Porter is still slated to meet with other suitors. The Brooklyn Nets, being part of that courtship, could also offer Porter a princely sum – 4 years at $106 million. Porter meets with the Nets on Monday.

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Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Wizards can’t say publicly that they will match any and all offers, but it appears that’s what they will do.

This was savvy negotiation on the Wizards part, because Porter is eligible for a 5-year/$128 million max contract. And since Washington didn’t max Porter on Saturday, they now only have to match 4 years instead of 5.

This gives Washington flexibility, because they’re not rooted into Porter for 5 years, and that loosens up money for the team in the future.

After Porter brings an offer to Washington, the Wizards then have 48 hours to match that offer, and the clock starts on July 6 and ends on July 8 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

The amount of money that Porter’s contract will eventually yield is not the question. The question is – does keeping Porter make the Wizards better than last season?

Porter was good for the first half of the season, and was even the number one 3-point shooter in the league for a time. But, after the All-Star break his breakout season disappeared, and he was a no-show for most of the Boston series.

If the Wizards re-sign Porter, and all things point in that direction, he will be the highest paid player on the roster. But that doesn’t mean anything. Because Stephen Curry was the 5th highest paid on his team, and that doesn’t stop him from being the best player or winning a championship in 2015. He was the 4th highest paid in 2017, and we know what happened then.

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Bottom line, Porter getting more money, does not equate to him becoming a better player. Hopefully, he chooses to improve.

Last season, Porter’s max contract was projected to be worth $128.2 million over five-years this summer.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the playoffs, Porter began to disappear during games. The once hot-shooting Porter, who was on a streak with his three-ball, became streaky. This was the same problem I witnessed in the 2015-2016 season, every time I took my seat – which Porter is going to show up tonight?

The streaky Otto Porter showed up in the Atlanta playoffs, and I wrote at the time that he may have hurt his max contract status because of it. I employed the old basketball adage, during the regular season you earn your money and during the playoffs you earn your reputation, because I believed that Porter had taken a step back in his performance, during the playoffs.

So the money aspect doesn’t really matter, because Washington is getting the same player, whether they pay him $106 million or $128 million. One would surmise, that since Porter was playing for a contract, that he would improve as the season wore on, yet, he did quite the opposite.

Ok, the Wizards get a decent player for the better part of next season, but will Porter disappear at the most crucial time, when it matters? And herein lies the $128 million question.

The Wizards made some positive movement by signing Tim Frazier, as one of John Wall’s backup. Yet, their bench is still far from complete, and hopefully Washington is able to find a diamond in the rough in the Summer League.

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As the roster now stands, it seems Washington will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference again. And if they were to meet Boston in the playoffs next season, it will be the same result, until three things happen.

I mention Boston, only because that’s where all of Porter’s weaknesses were evident, and that’s when I no longer believed that he should get a 5-year deal. Porter disappeared when Washington needed him the most, and that was unacceptable in every shape, form or fashion.

One, Washington must learn how to beat the Celtics in Boston. Two, Marcin Gortat should be coming off the bench.

Three, it doesn’t matter how much money Porter ends up with, he cannot disappear in crucial moments. You can’t have Isaiah Thomas grabbing rebounds over you. Porter was scared to attack the rim in Boston. Everyone knows that the Celtics are a physical team, but you can’t be scared to post up inside.

This is not a hot take. Boston sometimes alternate starters, like they did during the playoffs, and Washington should also employ this rotational lineup. Porter should be sharing starter minutes at the small forward with another starter, which Washington should pick up on the free agency market.

Neither Porter nor Gortat should be starting when playing the Celtics in Boston, if they meet again during the playoffs.

If the Wizards figure out their mental roadblock during the regular season, and are able to win a game on the road against Boston, then those two players can start. But if not, the Wizards will not win with Porter and Gortat on the road.

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Al Horford will crush Gortat again, with his perimeter shooting, which Gortat is too slow to defend. Porter is too scared to play bang-bang basketball down low to grab boards. They are both defensive liabilities, and don’t even get me started on offense.

Gortat is being allowed to slide under the radar right now, after his poor playoff performance. Not only do I think he should be traded, I thought he should have been traded during halftime.

Don’t say, “Why pay Otto that much money to essentially be a sixth man?” Look no farther than Ian Mahinmi, who is getting paid $64 million to sit on the bench. Houston we have a problem, will you please take Ian.

There’s the regular season Porter and then there’s the Playoff Porter. The Wizards have to choose which Porter they’re going to max.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on the way you look at it, because of the TV deals, the market can bare Porter’s contract. But can the Wizards bare being sent home again, one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals?

It doesn’t matter how much Otto Porter’s contract improves. The question is “Will Porter improve next season, and be a contributing factor towards the Wizards making the Eastern Conference Finals?”

Next: Kings Offer Otto Porter 4-Year Max Contract

Or will he disappear faster than the ink that dried on his contract? And that my friend is the $128 million question.