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Ernie Grunfeld, Wizards remain intent on signing Otto Porter and John Wall to new deals

Ernie Grunfeld, Wizards remain intent on signing Otto Porter and John Wall to new deals

Each time Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld or head coach Scott Brooks refer to their team's future, they include Otto Porter's name despite the latter just days away from being a restricted free agent.

He does not yet have a long-term contract, but the Wizards remain hopeful they can come to an agreement that will continue his development alongside other young players like John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Markieff Morris.

Porter, who turned 24 earlier this month, could receive as long as a five-year deal with the Wizards. 

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: Wiz make a deal]

"We've said all along that we want to keep our core group of young players together and Otto is an important part of what we're trying to do," Grunfeld said. "When free agency starts, we'll see what we can do and work things out to keep him here."

If that process does see Porter hit restricted free agency, the Wizards will have to first make a qualifying offer of 125 percent of his 2016-17 salary, which was $5.9 million, by the June 30 deadline.

That would put his QO at around $7.4 million. He could then seek offers in free agency with the Wizards holding the option to match and retain his rights. Once Porter receives an offer, they will have 48 hours to make their decision.

[RELATED: Brooks reminisces about Durant, 1st season in D.C.]

The NBA's free agency moratorium, which allows teams to negotiate deals with players, begins July 1. Players can then be signed beginning on July 6.

How much Porter is asking for is not clear yet, same with how much he will ultimately receive.

The NBA salary cap's significant increase last offseason and new rules have made it so there are few comparisons to draw. Bradley Beal, who was also a third overall pick like Porter, signed a maximum contract of five years and $128 million last summer, but he is and was a more acccomplished player than Porter. This past season Porter averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and shot 43.4 percent from three.

Wall's contract future was also addressed by Grunfeld this week as he addressed the media before and after Thursday's NBA Draft. Now that Wall was named All-NBA following the 2016-17 season, he is eligible for an extension worth four years and about $167 million.

"At the appropriate time, we will sit down with John. We want John to finish his career here," Grunfeld said. 

"He's a franchise guy. Him and Bradley have done a great job of improving and leading this ballclub, so we want John to finish his career here."

 

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Schedule heats up

The Wizards really needed that one on Friday night. Though the Nets, even without Caris LeVert, aren't an easy out, the Wizards wanted to fully take advantage of a soft spot of their schedule. It's tough to lose to the Nets when you consider the road ahead.

The Wizards play seven straight games against teams at .500 or better. That includes a road game against the Raptors, who are tied for the league's best record. They also see the Rockets, the Pelicans twice and play at the Sixers. It all begins Sunday against the Blazers, who are tied for the fourth-best record in the NBA.

Rematch

Most of the Wizards' games this season have been lopsided one way or the other, and usually in the direction they would not prefer. But they have played a few close games and their most entertaining one happened to come against this same Blazers team.

The Wizards and Blazers went to overtime on Oct. 22 in Portland. The Wizards forced the extra period thanks to a three by Bradley Beal, and they won thanks to Otto Porter Jr. blocking Damian Lillard's shot in the closing seconds. 

The Wizards and Blazers have played some classics in recent years. Markieff Morris beat them with a game-winning three two years ago and last season Beal dropped 50 at the Moda Center. The matchup between both teams' star guards seems to bring the best out in everyone.

Howard vs. Nurkic

Much of the focus in this matchup is always on John Wall and Beal vs. Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but there will be a lot of action in the paint with Dwight Howard going up against Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers are one of the best rebounding teams in the game and Nurkic, who pulls in 10.7 per game, is a big reason why. Nurkic also averages 15.5 points.

Howard is coming off his best game as a Wizard. He had 25 points and 17 rebounds against the Nets on Friday night. He was hurt when the teams first met in Portland.

Both are bruisers around the rim who don't stretch the floor with outside shots. It should be a physical battle on Sunday night.

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."