The $106 million offer sheet that Otto Porter could sign with the Sacramento Kings on Sunday could put the Wizards in a difficult spot because of the salary cap.
It's $99 million, $3 million less than the projections just a few months ago, and the luxury tax line is set at $119 million for the 2017-18 season.
After trading for Tim Frazier a week ago and signing Jodie Meeks using the bi-annual exception, the Wizards are right at $99 million for 11 guaranteed salaries. The minimum contracts of Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon Mac ($2.6 million total) are non-guaranteed.
The 2017 collective barganing agreement has been set up to give the Bird rightsholders a better chance at retaining their own free agents. It used to be a player could force a sign-and-trade, get to his new destination and not have to scarifice anything. He'd still get the maximum years and raises for each year.
Now, if a player does that he has to leave money on the table. Porter could get one more year (five) from Washington so if it matches his Sacramento's max it's still less than what the team would play had it offered Porter the max from the beginning of free agency July 1.
For months it has been clear that the Wizards intend to match any offers for Porter. Or will they change gears?
-- The Wizards would have 48 hours after Porter signs. Offer sheets can be signed during the July 1-6 moratorium period when players are allowed to come to terms, or non-binding agreements for contracts, with teams. If they don't match it, Porter's new team is the Kings, or whoever's offer sheet he'd sign.
-- The player can fetch one offer sheet. If he signs Sacramento's, Porter can't then go to the Brooklyn Nets and get a max offer sheet and force the Wizards to match that. It would be the same deal financially anyway. He'd either be in Sacramento or Washington next season. There's no other party.
-- Once a player signs an offer sheet, he cannot be part of any sign-and-trade deal. Porter and his agent could still go out and find a team to partner to deal for him.
-- Porter cannot be traded for one full year without his consent if there's an offer sheet match and the Wizards cannot strike a deal with the Kings for him within that year.
-- Some contracts have ETOs, or early-termination options, but the Kings' offer sheet cannot have one. In other words, Porter's money is fully guaranteed. No early outs.
-- The Wizards can exceed the cap to retain their own free agent such as Porter but they'd be over the tax line. They'd still have until the end of the upcoming regular season to shed salary to avoid being in the tax.
-- As long as Porter doesn't put his signature on the offer sheet, he can work out a different structured deal with the Wizards. They can opt to offer him the maximum years (five) at less per year to match or exceed $106 million. In other words, a year more of security could lessen the Wizards' own cap hit to stay under the tax. Instead of an average salary of $26.5 million over four years, it would be $21.2 million over five years.
-- Bojan Bogdanovic would likely out of the picture in this scenario unless there is another move or series of moves that creates room for the Wizards' other restricted free agent. They have to fill at least 14 of 15 roster spots, per new CBA rules, so that's still more salary. Undrafted rookies on the Las Vegas summer league team, Devin Robinson and Michael Young, are the leading candidates among that group but suffice to say whoever those players turn out to be they'll will likely be on minimum salaries.
Regardless of what president Ernie Grunfeld does, there's a lot more manuevering to be done.