Otto Porter appears likely to become a restricted free agent next summer, with no movement towards an extension to his rookie scale contract with the Wizards before starting the 2016-17 season, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.
Porter, drafted No. 3 overall in 2013, would end up like Bradley Beal a year ago when he didn’t work out a deal with the Wizards still owning the first right of refusal to retain his services. They acted quickly on Beal by signing him to a $128 million deal over five years this summer that will be made official later today or Wednesday.
Porter was taken ahead of No. 10 pick C.J. McCollum who signed a $106 million extension with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday. McCollum was coming off a season-ending knee injury at Lehigh which caused his stock to plummet and would've gone higher. But the shooting guard had a breakout season (20.8 points, 41.7% threes).
Porter is not in position to command such a salary unless he can replicate that in his second year as a starter. He averaged 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and shot 36.7% from three-point range for the Wizards in a 41-41 season but could go invisible for long stretches. He was considered the "safe" pick by Washington in an unpredictable draft class in which Anthony Bennett was chosen No. 1 overall.
The wing position is where the Wizards are currently thin, with just Porter and second-year player Kelly Oubre. Under coach Scott Brooks, both are expected to develop better than with Randy Wittman.
Porter has said he’s better when catching the ball on the move mid-range and shooting rather than standing flat-footed in the corner waiting for three-point looks in Wittman's rigid system. He was less than 30% on threes most of last season before finishing strong to climb closer to 40%.
Not getting a four-year extension now can work out for Porter just as it did for Beal when he was part of a shallow shooting guard class. The salary cap is expected to spike again, from $70 million to $94 million this season to $102 million for 2017-18. He'd also get an extra year (five) by letting the rookie deal expire like Beal.
A look at the list of small forwards at his postion who will be on the market in 2017 -- Jeff Green, P.J. Tucker, Tony Snell, Ersan Ilysaova -- means less quailty in supply might translate into increased demand for Porter's services. And again, like Beal he's just 23.
Based on how the Wizards have manuevered in the last year, they prefer to keep their options open to see if Porter can perform well enough to put the pressure on the them while Oubre pushes him.
Both played well together in the spot minutes that Wittman had them on the court simultaneously. Wittman didn't stick with using Porter as a stretch four, where he had his career-best game (28 points) in a win vs. the Dallas Mavericks.
McCollum went from being barely a rotation player to the league's Most Improved Player to a max contract in just a few years, after Portland turned over its roster by changing four starters. The difference for Porter is the Wizards likely will have the same starting five.