Washington Wizards: Otto Porter’s Poker

BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards reacts after a basket against Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during Game Seven of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at TD Garden on May 15, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards reacts after a basket against Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during Game Seven of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at TD Garden on May 15, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Washington Wizards’ Otto Porter is getting paid. Alot. Using his leverage as a restricted free agent, he worked with the Brooklyn Nets to create an offer sheet that fit his needs and desires, but also will drive Wizards management crazy if he doesn’t perform. It could be a bad beat, but could also be a royal flush.

Were the Washington Wizards bluffing when they said, albeit not publicly, that they would match any and all offers for Otto Porter Jr.?

Washington may or may not have been bluffing, but the Brooklyn Nets called their bluff, and raised them one.

The Wizards will match the Nets’ offer sheet of $106.5 million over 4 years. The offer includes the following: a provision which calls for the Wizards to pay half of Porter’s salary upfront by October 1 every season; and a player option after the third year allowing him to opt out. If Porter chooses to exercise that option, he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

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In addition to the front-loaded salary and player option, there’s a trade provision, whereby Porter can veto being traded, during the first year of his new contract. So, for those of you still looking for DeMarcus Cousins next season, keep looking.

Whether you agree or disagree as to Porter getting the max, why should Porter have to pay for bad decision-making from the team in the past? It’s not Porter’s fault that the Wizards are saddled with such unfriendly contracts, case in point Ian Mahinimi‘s.

I believe that no matter what Porter is paid, that doesn’t magically turn him a better player. But hopefully being paid as a max player will motivate Porter to up his game.

I also advocated that Porter should be alternating starter minutes with Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Atlanta Hawks. I was very impressed with how Hardaway, coming off the bench, performed against the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs last season. Only to wake up this morning to find out the Knicks offered Hardaway, $71 million over 4 years. He deserves every penny.

There are those who argued, that the Wizards should let Porter go to the Nets, then what? Paul George isn’t walking through that door.

Porter is not walking anywhere, except to the bank, because the Wizards will keep their promise to match the Nets’ offer. Washington wanted to keep Porter in the first place, but not at 5 years for $126 million.

If the Wizards could have received a third star on the team, I would have opened the door for Porter myself. Instead, the Wizards must now play with the hand that they dealt themselves.

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So where does this leave Washington’s roster? Basically in the same place as last season.

Bojan Bogdanovic most likely is gone. Washington changed a few of their bench pieces, but next season will truly determine if it’s an upgrade.

There were a lot of good players during this free agency that the Wizards could have picked up to bolster their bench, we don’t know if they tried, but hopefully they did. And it’s not too late, because there are a lot of players still available on the open market.

This includes Michael Beasley, who I wrote about earlier in the week. Please go after him, before he’s picked up by other teams, like all the trade pieces I previously wrote about Washington going after, – such as Omri Casspi at the trade deadline in February, and Dwight Howard after the playoffs.

Casspi just recently signed with the Golden State Warriors, and Michael Jordan added Howard to the Charlotte Hornets.

What can the Wizards do now? I wrote a long article after the season ended on what the team could do to advance in the playoffs. But with the roster basically unchanged, it’s the same thing that they should have done last season:

First, improve on defense. Secondly, limit turnovers. Please grab a rebound, is that too much to ask Marcin Gortat? Don’t have your feet planted in cement, like you did in the Boston playoff series.

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Finally, Porter, please let the max Porter show up next season. You know the one, the max Porter that led the league for a time in 3-point shooting and the great 3-and-D player. Not the streaky Porter, the one who averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds last season.

Also, you cannot go scoreless in a playoff game, let alone an elimination game. So, please return to being a knockdown shooter from deep.

As you know, as your offer sheet was being drafted, everything is negotiable. You protected yourself for next season, but offseason will come around once again.

Congratulations on getting your money Mr. Porter. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, because no one can question your level of professionalism on and off the court.

But if I may borrow some of John Wall’s phrasing, now go out next season and earn it. There is nothing stopping the Wizards from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, as long as you carry your weight during the playoffs.

Next: Wizards Receive Porter Offer Sheet from Nets

This is the first time that the Wizards will ever have to pay into the luxury tax. The team had so many missed opportunities, but everyone knows in the end you always pay the piper.