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Wizards value strong connection with Otto Porter as he enters restricted free agency

Wizards value strong connection with Otto Porter as he enters restricted free agency

During the All-Star break, when Otto Porter should've been in New Orleans launching red, white and blue moneyballs in the three-point contest, he was buried under a hood of a car in Morley, Mo.

The 6-8 forward for the Wizards, who'll be extended a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer, wouldn't have it any other way.

He ignored the clamoring for the NBA to put one of the league's top long-ball shooters in 2016-17 in the contest.

He'd rather bond with his father and listen to his family's vintage Plymouth Road Runner hum. 

RELATED: Wizards hope to sign Wall to contract extension

"Home is where the heart is. Why would you change that?" said Porter, who spent All-Star week in his hometown at his parents' house which is the same place he grew up. "Population of 700. Probably 699 now that I left."

That's Porter. He cooled after a blistering start to his fourth season, second as a starter, to average 13.4 points, 51.6% overall shooting and 43.4% from thee-point range. All were career-highs as were his 6.4 rebounds.

The Wizards aren't in the same position as they were last summer with Bradley Beal, who was a restricted free agent. They moved quickly to re-sign him to $128 million. They'll have less room under the cap this time coupled with Porter being a completely different player.Wall and Beal are the two best players who are at their best with the ball because they create for others, too. Porter is best off the ball, as he relies on movement, angles and spotting up to get his shots.

Every good team needs someone like Porter, who won't pout if he doesn't get 15 shots each night and will sacrifice for the greater good. He's ego-less. But does that mean the Wizards won't dig deep to pay $100 million-plus to retain his services? They could qualify him at 125% of this season's $5.9 million salary which would officially make him restricted, allow him to test the market and bring back an offer sheet and if he does they'll have 72 hours to match it. If the offer sheet is low, that works in the Wizards' favor. If it's at the higher end and they don't match it, Porter walks and nothing is gained in return.

Free agency is a supply-and-demand market like any other industry. If there's a dearth of talent available and a lot of teams are in need of that product -- see Beal last summer with the next best shooting guard Dwyane Wade -- the pricetag skyrockets. After Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward, neither of whom are in the Wizards' wheelhouse, there's Danilo Gallinari (five years older, injury prone), Rudy Gay (seven years older, coming off Achilles tear), Andre Igoudala (nine years older) and the like.

Porter, however, has another thing going for him. He's theirs. The Wizards developed him after a hip injury slowed him as a rookie and he spent his sophomore season as an apprentice under Paul Pierce. The Wizards moved up in the 2013 lottery from eighth to No. 3 which put them in position to draft what they considered to be the safest bet. While the Cleveland Cavaliers bombed with Anthony Bennett at No. 1 and the Orlando Magic gambled on Victor Oladipo at No. 2 only to trade him last season, the Wizards' selection never was in doubt. 

If the Wizards were to come to terms with Wall on a veteran extension that could approach $170 million, that likely would limit what they could offer Porter. But there are a lot of moving pieces to the puzzle before figuring out a number that would work for both sides.

Porter spent two years at Georgetown. His agent, David Falk, is here, too. There's no drama with Porter, who avoided the AAU circuit as an elite high school player. He prefers to keep it simple which is in perfect line with how he was raised.

"That's just how I grew up playing basketball, with my father and my family. We didn't need AAU, really," he said. "We had so much family that was my AAU."

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When he goes back to Morley, he stays with his parents. He gets the house all to himself when his brother is at college. He'd much rather talk about cars than the business of the NBA and contracts.

"That's my second love. Not a question. That's just something I enjoy off the court," Porter said of being a mechanic. "Majority of the day. Everyday, really.

"My father, his brothers always worked on cars. I was always around when they were fixing cars up. I took a big interest in cars when I was young. It's relaxing to my mind, body and my soul."

He'll be 24 next month. Porter exploded for a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds in a Nov. 9 win the Boston Celtics,  He had 32 and 14 in a win against the Milwaukee Bucks the following month.

Before the calendar year ended, he had five double-doubles which was equal to his output in his first three NBA seasons. Under first-year coach Scott Brooks, he had more freedom and opportunities to score.

The attention to Wall and Beal often left Porter as the forgotten man spotting up on the weakside, awaiting ball reversals or skip passes for wide-open looks. He can still have trouble with physical players at small forward but he flourishes when moved over to the stretch four spot in small lineups. What happens with restricted free agent Bojan Bogdanovic and rising third-year forward Kelly Oubre, who has a fourth-year option coming in October, will factor in as well

While it may sound cliche when other players say things like this about their contract status, every bit of Porter's words are genuine.

"It is what it is," he said. "I'm going to continue what I've been doing. Continue to work. If everything works itself out, it will. ... A lot of people are surprised but with me, it's like, 'I saw this coming a long time ago.'"

Porter played a career-high 80 games, five more than he did in 2015-16, which is surprising when considering how his right hip flared up on him several times. He often rode an exercise bike to stay loose on game nights.

To get past the second round of the playoffs, where the Wizards' season has ended in three of the last four years, the roster will need a tune up. In a perfect world, Porter would remain one of their spark plugs.

RELATED: 2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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NBA Draft Big Board 9.0: League-wide intel, tiers, Wizards first-round options

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NBA Draft Big Board 9.0: League-wide intel, tiers, Wizards first-round options

After months of scouting games, watching game tape, conducting interviews and holding workouts, one should logically expect some semblance of order with a given year’s draft class.

That simply won’t occur in 2019. Get past the likely top three picks -- Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett -- and anything is possible.

Over and over that is the position of numerous NBA sources heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft in which the Wizards select ninth overall.

“This draft is pretty unique,” said a Western Conference scout in recent days. “There are a few outliers and then the draft could really, really go in any direction. It’s really an eye of the beholder draft.”

In other words, after those top three, consensus doesn’t exist. Teams will surely add help and some prospects will ultimately turn into viable starters and perhaps more, but in June of 2019, there isn’t much love for the 2019 group especially in the lottery range.

There’s a general agreement within public mock drafts in terms of the five players after Barrett, but the order comes out in a variety of ways. Some observers see little difference between picks 4-12 while others view 9-22 comparable.

That anything-is-possible vibe has some believing more than the usual amount of trades occurring. One already went down, though the Pelicans adding the fourth overall selection wasn’t exactly the main point of Saturday’s deal with the Lakers involving Anthony Davis.

Yet the main reason behind all the anything-is-possible talk stems from several teams simply not loving the options especially in the top half of the draft. Therefore, why trade up if the player available in teens is comparable to the candidates at nine?

The same logic applies for the team holding the ninth pick. For the Wizards, the general hope is one player they truly desire slides to them or some team that covets a prospect is willing to pay a premium for a trade up.

Stay put and even without a shocker ahead of them, the Wizards can help their cause. Not with an obvious slam dunk selection, but in specific areas, eventually, hopefully.

This year, anything seems possible.

As stated above, projecting who goes where and the preferences of each team, especially in this era of positionless basketball, is a true challenge. Before getting into some league-wide notes, here are some educated guesses for the Wizards.

The rebounder: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga. There might not a better selection for addressing numerous areas than the athletic 6-foot-8 power forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan.

The Wizards currently lack a true forward on the roster. This one brings three years of collegiate experience.

The 21-year-old Hachimura led Gonzaga with 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds last season while shooting 41.7 percent on his 3-point attempts.

The Japanese native lacks upside compared to some other candidates and there are concerns about his basic hoops instincts. There have also been long-running whispers of interest from Washington.

The defender: Sekou Doumbouya, France. The still maturing 6-foot-9 forward with good size and length showed off his freaky athleticism in France's top league. As the youngest player in the 2019 class, Doumbouya will need more than a minute to find his footing and develop his perimeter shot, but his physical traits and defensive versatility match the direction of the modern NBA.

The polarizing upside: Cam Reddish, Duke. Reddish goes third on this list even though the likelihood is, based on year-long player projections, he becomes the pick if available. While it seems doubtful he falls past eight, Reddish feels like the one heralded prospect who could take a tumble on draft night.

The 6-foot-8 forward turned into a clanky 3-point shooter around mid-February and often faded late in games. While his perimeter stroke is pretty, Reddish struggled significantly around the rim. Yet his athletic fluidity is ideal. Combined with strong measurables (7-foot-1 wingspan) there is plenty to like. Where he lands in terms of team culture feels like a huge key to unlocking the potential vs. bringing out the worst.

Considering all the variables, Reddish represents a big test for the league's talent evaluators -- All-Star level talent or underachiever?

The scorer: Keldon Johnson, Kentucky. The likely wing threats available in the 9-22 range epitomize the risk-reward aspect in this class. Despite specific concerns, Nassir Little (raw instincts), Romeo Langford (27 percent on 3’s), Kevin Porter (undisciplined) and Tyler Herro (short wingspan) could all hear their names called before Johnson and with good reason due to their intriguing potential.

Meanwhile, the UK product offers hope with impressive athletic traits and a 38.1 percent clip on 3-pointers during his freshman season. On the other side, Johnson lacks playmaking skills; he averaged 1.6 assists in 31 minutes per game.

Nine seems high based on perception, but Johnson might be the prospect who turns out more coveted by teams than public big boards. While his range is considered 10-20, sources feel Johnson goes somewhere 15 or higher. Potential target if the Wizards trade down.

The high floor: P.J. Washington, Kentucky. Washington’s profile lacks the wow factor compared to the names listed above. What the sophomore offers is a steadier baseline in numerous areas including rebounding, defending, 3-point shooting and maturity. All of that comes with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. If the Wizards go safe rather than star chasing, Washington makes sense especially if they move down in the first.

*The feeling around the league is a lottery-picking team has made a draft promise to Hachimura with Minnesota the likely spot. That’s assuming the 4-man gets past the Wizards.

*For those of you wanting Oregon’s Bol Bol at nine, I hear you based on the height (7-foot-3), length and impressive perimeter shooting. Some of Bol’s game tape is wildly mesmerizing. The downside, however, ranging from his weight (208 at the Combine) to the injury risk to an inconsistent motor to defensive concerns beyond shot blocking, seems a bit much for the Wizards’ situation. Also not hearing much about a landing spot in the lottery, but subterfuge is real this time of year.

*Interesting that Coby White worked out for the Wizards Monday considering most projections have him off the board by seven. Say Reddish goes before White and the scoring threat remains available at eight. Do the Hawks, already loaded with Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, go elsewhere? That’s one way White could fall to nine.

*Speaking of promises, Washington wing Matisse Thybulle received one in the first round according to multiple sources and... Arkansas center Daniel Gafford to a team in the 17-23 range?

That would be quite a jump for Gafford based on public projections; NBCSW ranks him 31, SI.com 36 and ESPN 40. If true, the best guess among those teams is...Atlanta at 17? The Hawks need a center. This approach would allow them to take the best available at 8 (Reddish?) and 10 (Doumbouya?).

*Georgia center Nic Claxton, slotted 21st on the NBCSW Big Board, is receiving interest from teams picking in teens.

On to the main event...

2019 NBA Draft Big Board (with tiers)

TIER 1

1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

TIER 2

2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. RJ Barrett, SG, Duke

TIER 3

4. De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

5. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

6. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

7. Coby White, SG, UNC

TIER 4

8. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

TIER 5

9. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, France

10. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

11. Nassir Little, SF, UNC

12. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

13. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon

14. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky

15. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

16. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

17. Goga Bitadze, C, International/Georgia

18. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

19. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

20. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

21. Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia

22. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech

23. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC

24. Mfiondu Kabengele, PF, Fla. St.

25. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia

26. Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia

27. Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

28. KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford

29. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

30. Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas

31. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

32. Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue

33. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

34. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova      

35. Darius Bazley, SF, USA

36. Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee   

37. Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont

38. Admiral Schofield, PF, Tennessee

39. Jalen Lecque, SG, USA

40. Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State

41. Louis King, SF, Oregon

42. Isaiah Roby, SF, Nebraska

43. Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn

44. Tremont Waters, PG, LSU

45. Naz Reid, C, LSU

46. Terence Davis, SG, Mississippi

47. Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State

48. Jontay Porter, C, Missouri

49. Ky Bowman, PG, Boston College

50. Zach Norvell, SG, Gonzaga

51. Deividas Sirvydis, F, Lithuania

52. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest

53. Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s

54. Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan

55. Yovel Zoosman, F. Israel

56. Miye Oni, F, Yale

57. Brian Bowen, PF, USA

58. Ignas Brazdeikis, PF, Michigan

59. DaQuan Jeffries, SG, Tulsa

60. Cody Martin, SG, Nevada

Others: Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Miss. St; Dedric Lawson, F. Kansas; Marcos Louzada Silva, SF, Brazil; Terance Mann, G, Florida State; Justin Robinson, PG, Virginia Tech

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The longterm case for the Wizards to not trade Bradley Beal is more compelling than you might think

The longterm case for the Wizards to not trade Bradley Beal is more compelling than you might think

We know teams remain interested in snagging Bradley Beal.

There’s no explanation required why true contenders or wannabes would covet a 25-year-old two-time All-Star coming off a near All-NBA season. With Anthony Davis dealt to the Lakers, Beal becomes arguably the top prize in the trade market.

Before shipping the Wizards’ leading scorer out of the DMV for long-term assets that would signal a rebuild, consider the alternative. No talking points are needed for the concept of keeping Beal, but doing so brings up the larger picture.

Assuming the Wizards remained fiscally disciplined this off-season, the team can enter the summer of 2020 with a relatively clean balance sheet and actual roster optimism.

At that point the Wizards would have Beal possibly coming off a third All-Star appearance along with 2018 first-round pick Troy Brown, a player selected with the ninth overall pick in Thursday’s Draft and a 2020 lottery pick.

Add to that the return of John Wall. It’s conceivable the five-time All-Star rejoins the team late next season, but it likely would take additional time to gauge his physical status following the devastating Achilles injury that required surgery in February. If Wall appears close to his prior form, the Wizards have an interesting starting point with those pieces.

In addition, the expiring contracts for Ian Mahinmi ($15.4 million) and Dwight Howard ($5.6) come off the books. Beal, Wall and Brown are the only current players under contract beyond next season.

This season also provides the next front office leader a chance to establish a cultural baseline for a team that dealt with locker room squabbles last season. The Wizards remain without a general manager after firing President of Basketball Operations on April 2.

Tommy Sheppard has run the front office on an interim basis since. While logically the Wizards would hold off making any splashy moves like dealing Beal until a permanent GM is named, owner Ted Leonsis is the one needing convincing regardless.

Leonsis famously told reporters last season the team “will never, ever tank.” Rebuilding doesn’t have the same negative connotation as that four-letter T-word, but dealing Beal would offer the perception of a team focused on the long haul above all.

That’s not necessarily the wrong approach. The Wizards can always head into that direction ahead of the 2020-21 season. Beal’s value would remain high. Holding him now also allows Washington to wait on Wall, clean up their salary cap and restart the contention process. The organization can also explore signing Beal to an extension this season (3-year, $111.8 million) or next.

None of this means anything to other NBA teams hoping to pry Beal away.

The New Orleans Pelicans dialed up the Wizards. The San Antonio Spurs are interested.

Logically so are the Celtics, Nets and several other teams looking to make a bold move now that the Warriors suffered two crushing injuries and the Lakers already went all in. The Knicks could enter the trade talks should Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant bypass the Big Apple.

Regardless, the Wizards appear cool with keeping their best player and with good reasons.

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