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Despite no extension for Porter, Wizards intend to re-sign him 'long-term'

Despite no extension for Porter, Wizards intend to re-sign him 'long-term'

Otto Porter doesn't have an extension to his rookie contract with the Wizards, but president Enrie Grunfeld said he has talked with his small forward and intends to keep him next summer when he hits the market.

"We had conversations but we want Otto here long-term," Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com on Wednesday, before the regular-season home opener with the Toronto Raptors. "We like Otto. We really like what he brings to the table. He’s a really good player that meshes well with John (Wall) and Brad (Beal) who like to have the ball in their hands. Otto cuts and spots up and he does a lot of little things. He makes a lot of winning plays that don’t show up in the boxscore. Our intention is in the offeseason is to have Otto signed and have him here long-term."

Porter was eligible for an extension through Oct. 31 but the Wizards let the deadline pass. Porter, who will make $5.9 million this season as the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, will become restricted when the Wizards make him a $7.7 million qualifying offer (125% of his salary, required by the CBA). If the Wizarrds don't make him a qualifying offer, he'd become unrestricted and free to sign with any team. 

A qualifying offer doesn't mean a deal has been reached. It's required to be tendered by the Wizards to give them first right of refusal if Porter were to seek out a deal and bring them an offer sheet from another team. Though Porter is just in his second season as a starter, he will command more than $7.7 million with the salary cap spiking again in the summer of 2017. The cap hit on for the Wizards will be smaller (a $7.7 million cap hold is placed on the books if the Wizards qualify him) than the actual terms of any contract. That way, similar to what they did with Bradley Beal when he was in the same position a year ago, they manufacture more cap space and retain flexibility for a roster that is likely to have some turnover. 

If anyone is equipped to handle the questions and pressure of being in a contract year, it's Porter.

"We like everything about him. Great character, very hard worker, very low key, does everythng behind the scenes," Grunfeld said. "I talked to Otto and let him know that he’s very important to us and we expect him to continue to work hard, continue to improve and continue to contribute to what we’re tyring to do."

[RELATED: Attention over contract doesn't faze Wizards' Porter]

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Wizards, Rui Hachimura get a glimpse at Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant

Wizards, Rui Hachimura get a glimpse at Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant

For a game featuring a 7-16 Wizards team and the 8-16 Grizzlies, Saturday's matchup packs plenty of intrigue. 

With Rui Hachimura showing plenty of promise in Washington and Ja Morant nearly running away with the Rookie of the Year Award, we're all in for a classic battle of two of the game's best newcomers. 

Outside of that for the Wizards, Saturday night should absolutely be a win. The Grizzlies are 24th in NET rating (25th offense, 21st defense) and while their young core is as promising as any in the league, they don't quite know how to put together wins yet. 

Here's a breakdown of two players the Wizards should be wary of. 

Ja Morant

As we stated earlier with Morant, he's been far and away the best rookie this season. He's averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds on 46.3 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three. 

Morant had the generational physical tools and exciting upside that got him drafted second overall, the question was whether he'd be able to put it all together at the NBA level, especially playing the hardest position in the league as a lead guard. 

It's safe to say he's answered almost all of those questions just 19 games into his career. 

The Wizards will have to contain his drives to the rim and force him into contested jump shots, which is a lot easier said than done for this defense. 

If they can't keep him in front and he starts breaking down the defense off the dribble, look out. He could mess around and get a triple-double. 

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Before the Grizzlies drafted Morant, Jackson was their crowned jewel prospect. Don't get me wrong, he's still one of the best young players in the league, it's just a testament with how good Morant has been. 

Jackson has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the league one day. When he's playing well, he provides the Grizzlies defense incredible versatility since he can switch onto nearly every position while being able to protect the paint and rebound at a high level. 

Then on the offensive end, Jackson can stretch the floor on pick and pops (37.8 percent 3P) and put the ball on the deck to attack closeouts. He truly is the embodiment of the modern NBA center. 

The Wizards have been used to paint-dominant centers after playing the Sixers and Nuggets over the last few weeks. Jackson just might present a better matchup for their injury-riddled frontcourt. 

Washington would be wise to use Moe Wagner to keep him stretched out of the paint and then take advantage of the Grizzlies suspect perimeter defense to get to the basket. That is, of course, if Wagner can stay on the floor. 

The Wizards and Grizzlies are scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, and you can catch all of our coverage on NBC Sports Washington. 

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Ja Morant reminds Wizards head coach Scott Brooks of Russell Westbrook

Ja Morant reminds Wizards head coach Scott Brooks of Russell Westbrook

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks coached Russell Westbrook for seven seasons in Oklahoma City, as Westbrook developed into one of the best and most electric players in the league. He knows just how good Westbrook is and does not throw around comparisons to him lightly.

But when Brooks watches Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, whom the Wizards will see for the first time on Saturday when they play at the Grizzlies, he can't help but be reminded of the eight-time All-Star and 2016-17 MVP who now plays for the Houston Rockets.

"He's as dynamic and explosive as any player that has come in [the NBA] in a long time. You see a lot of Westbrook in him where he attacks and is fearless. He plays hard, he puts so much pressure on the defense," Brooks said.

The No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft, Morant is technically ahead of schedule with the Westbrook comparison. He's only 20 yet as a rookie he's averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Westbrook wasn't scoring that much until his third season, at Age 22.

Certainly, Morant still has a long way to go to reach Westbrook's level as a perennial All-NBA player who is the first to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson. But Brooks is already surprised by several things Morant is doing that make him wonder just how good he can someday be.

"It's pretty remarkable to come in and do what he's doing. He won a game defensively by blocking a shot. He attacks the rim. He makes plays, he can pass with either hand. He sees the floor. A lot of times, it takes two or three years to get all of those reads down and he seems to be able to have his checkpoints off pretty quick. He finds the next read if [the first one] is not open," Brooks said.

Brooks also remarked how he didn't think Morant would shoot threes this early in his career as well as he has so far. Morant is knocking down 42.2 percent from long range, much higher than Westbrook's 30.5 percent career average, for comparison.

The Wizards will have their hands full when they face Morant and the Grizzlies with no ideal option to guard him. Perhaps Brooks can tap back into his OKC days to come up with an answer.