The Wizards are forced to max Otto Porter

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: Otto Porter Jr.
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: Otto Porter Jr. /

The Washington Wizards will have to pay Otto Porter max money to retain him, and it appears like they will, but is he worth it? 

Much like the events that led to Bradley Beal earning a big contract last offseason, the Washington Wizards attempted to move quick on retaining Otto Porter’s services. The two parties walked away without agreeing to a deal, but Porter did manage to sign a max-level offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets.

Now the Wizards will have to match the offer in order to retain Porter.

Coming off the best season in his young career, Porter was going to get a huge pay raise and if it wasn’t with Washington, it was going to be with another team. And while it’s safe to say Porter isn’t worth a max-level contract, the Wizards aren’t in a situation to simply let him walk for nothing.

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The Wizards had a tough ending to the season – losing in Game 7 to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Semifinals. If the Wizards were to let Porter walk, the Wizards would not only get worse, but there wouldn’t be much room for improvement when looking at the team’s salary cap situation.

According to Eric Pincus from Basketball Insiders, Washington already has over $100 million guaranteed to the roster for the 2018-19 season. This is assuming the team exercises the options on Kelly Oubre and Chris McCullough, and includes Martell Webster’s stretch provision. Keep in mind, this is without the signing of Otto Porter.

For this offseason, the cap is set at around $99 million (thanks, Kevin Durant). The Wizards are already extremely close to that cap, especially after agreeing to terms with Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott.

The reason Washington can go over the cap to re-sign Porter without penalty is because the team owns his Bird Rights.

Odds are, Washington will have to go into the luxury tax at some point – either this offseason or next. The team better hope their young prospects improve immensely because the teams that are willing to pay the tax, are teams that are competing for a championship. Right now, Washington is still fighting to become a top two team in the Eastern Conference.

If Porter improved his numbers, the team could be right there with Boston. Many argue to this day which team is truly better because in the Conference Semifinals every home team won. Should Washington hadn’t started off the season so terrible (2-8), perhaps the Wizards would’ve been the number one seed and set themselves up to beat the Celtics.

The Washington Wizards lack a true third scoring option presence. In a perfect world, Porter becomes that option. But Porter only averaged slightly above 13 points per game last season and that was a career high. The team would even go to Markieff Morris over Porter in the offense quite often.

Porter lacks a very specific skill that Scott Brooks utilizes in his offense – isolation scoring. That skill can extend into ball-handling, making contested jumpers, and quickness. Say Otto were to add said skills, he still doesn’t have the mentality of scoring every time he touches the ball. He’ll have to become more aggressive on the offensive end.

The fact that Bradley Beal was in the same boat last season should give Wizards fans hopes. Beal wasn’t very aggressive either up until this past season. If Beal was able to take that next step offensively, why can’t Porter?

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The potential is certainly there for Otto Porter to become an even better all-around player than he is today. The matter of the fact is that he hasn’t been the player Washington needs him to be. He’ll need to become more aggressive on the offensive end and continue to work on his ball-handling.

Otto Porter could eventually turn into a player worthy of a max-level contract. Up until this point, he hasn’t been worth and isn’t worth the deal but with Washington’s limited cap space for seasons to come, they don’t have much of a choice.