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After 7 years, Washington was more than just place of business for Otto Porter

After 7 years, Washington was more than just place of business for Otto Porter

The first time Otto Porter flew on a plane came in 2011.

The high school basketball standout from Sikeston, Mo., a rural town of approximately 16,000 located in the southeast part of the state, was headed to Washington, D.C. Specifically, Georgetown University for a recruiting trip.

“I was basically going to a whole new life,” Porter said in 2017. “Leaving home, leaving my comfort zone and pursuing a dream that I had.”

In terms of the area, he never left.

Porter starred for two seasons with the Hoyas and played the next five-plus seasons with the Wizards, who selected the 6-foot-8 forward with an efficient game and quiet demeanor third overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Though never on the same plane as Washington’s two headliners, John Wall and Bradley Beal, Porter’s addition and subsequent hefty contract extension signaled plans for a heralded trio.

The Wizards jettisoned those plans Wednesday night in the name of financial flexibility. Porter no longer calls the DMV his work home.

This stunning deal – Porter to the Chicago Bulls for forwards Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, plus a 2023 second-round pick – emerged quickly to address a long-standing issue while ending the established plan.

Washington, with only five players under contract, exceeded the projected $109 million contract for next season primarily because of commitments to Wall, Beal, and Porter. Maybe the front office cobbles together a viable 9-10 man rotation with three as the linchpins. They led the Wizards to 49 wins during the 2016-17 season and three second-round playoff appearances.

Wall’s torn Achilles flipped the script and moved salary cap and luxury tax worries to the center of the action.

Moving Beal, a two-time All-Star, seems impossible unless a full rebuild becomes the new plan. It's not.

Dealing the remaining one-plus seasons of Ian Mahinmi’s large tab would require the addition of coveted draft picks. There’s no moving Wall with his injuries and contract.

That left Porter, who signed a four-year, $106 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017 that Washington matched.

The trade dropped the Wizards tax bill from $8.96 million to $3.34 million, per ESPN, and its 2019-20, salaries to $89.5 million in guaranteed contracts. Washington later went completely under the tax by trading Markieff Morris and a 2023 second-round selection to New Orleans for Wesley Johnson.

No longer choked by finances, Washington can breathe more comfortably heading into the off-season.  The Wizards are not locked into keeping Parker or Portis beyond this season. Extending Portis, a rugged power forward, seems likely.

“I prefer Otto,” a former NBA front office executive texted to NBC Sports Washington moments after the trade, “but if it’s gotta be done to clear money, getting Portis and a second seems like a decent deal.”

There’s some irony with finances taking a primary role in an Otto Porter sendoff since for many his contract came to define the player more than his many winning traits.

In 2013, Syracuse’s longtime head coach Jim Boeheim overlooked the rivalry with Georgetown to deem Porter the “best all-around” small forward in Big East history. Once Porter overcame some initial struggles on the NBA level, league executives and opposing coaches came to praise the parts of his game that do not register in any box score but makes basketball minds swoon.

Those that love numbers also covet the highly efficient forward. Porter finished top-5 in 3-point shooting percentages in consecutive seasons, consistently ranked among the leaders in turnover rate and often paced the Wizards in net rating. He led the Wizards in “Win Shares” the two previous seasons.

The contract overshadowed the work. Max contracts are handed out to franchise-altering players. Porter’s talents are more franchise enhancing.

Porter’s low-key persona stands out amid a cavalcade of outsized NBA personalities. His athleticism, above average for the masses, offered an old-man quality compared to the league’s sky-walkers especially when lingering hip and toe injuries flared up.

NBA fans generally want their heroes loud, proud and above the ground. The kid from rural Missouri is grounded in multiple ways.

The big picture money alone did not move Porter.

If he advanced his game after a pair of solid campaigns, the Wizards figure out a way to keep him. Porter struggled at the start of the season and over his final five games. The 3-point shooting remained steady, but his mid-range game faltered.

Nothing egregious, not worthy of condemnation, though head coach Scott Brooks set a tone by singling out Porter’s lack of aggression after the second game of the season at a point when the team played passively.

Porter returned from a knee injury shortly after Wall played his last game of the season on Dec. 26. The Wizards needed all the usual subtleties from Porter, and then some. At times he popped from the perimeter and apparition into passing lanes. With the team shorthanded, they needed more. With Wall sidelined for the next 12 months and the financial situation limited, Washington decided it needed change.

For a variety of reasons, Porter’s game never took off during this curious season. He will now end the campaign somewhere else even though just a few days prior it appeared set he would continue calling Washington home.

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How to watch Pistons at Wizards ‘Predict the Game’ broadcast

How to watch Pistons at Wizards ‘Predict the Game’ broadcast

The Washington Wizards return to Capital One Arena to host the Detroit Pistons on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 2 p.m. 

The Wizards are hoping to not only bounce back after suffering from a tough 140-111 loss in Toronto Friday night but also to snap their losing streak at home. Monday’s game will be the Wizards last home, before hitting the road until they return home on January 30th. 

The Wizards currently lead the series 2-1, the Wizards won both matchups against the Pistons on Nov.4 and Dec. 16. However, most recently the Wizards fell short 132-102 on Dec 26th. Will the Wizards be able to win the season series on Monday?

Take your Wizards experience to the next level and get involved in the action with NBC Sports Washington's newest Predict the Game contest.

'PREDICT THE GAME' HOW TO WATCH

What is this broadcast? Predict the Game is an easy-to-enter, free contest that allows fans to predict various game and player performance outcomes through a series of approximately 12-15 questions per quarter that will appear on-screen during the alternate telecast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. Predict the Game leaderboards will be displayed at select times, and the winner of each contest will be revealed throughout the game and during NBC Sports Washington’s postgame coverage.

Where can I find it? Contest questions and leaderboards will be displayed on NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder).

Additionally, the broadcast can be streamed on desktopiOS and Android devices. 

The NBC Sports Washington Plus presentation will, for the first time, feature special hosts, who will appear at various times to address Predict the Game participants and provide contest updates, information and results. The enhanced experience will contain the majority of the same video and audio (including announcers) as the primary live-game coverage, which will be available simultaneously on NBC Sports Washington.

How do I win? Fans will earn points for both answering questions (1 point) and correct predictions (1 or 2 points, depending on the question), with the top eligible scorer at the end of each game earning or splitting the $500 prize.

Each quarter will be its own contest, with an entirely new leaderboard starting from scratch, so even if fans miss out on the start of the game there will still be plenty of time to play and win. 

Fans must enter Predict the Game, which is open to join throughout the entire game, and submit their predictions at www.nbcsportswashington.com/predict.

WIZARDS vs. PISTONS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Detroit Pistons

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Pistons will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Pistons on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. PISTONS TV SCHEDULE

1:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

1:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

2:00 PM: Wizards vs. Pistons (LIVE)

4:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

5:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

5:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS 2019-20 'PREDICT THE GAME' SCHEDULE

January 6: vs Boston (7 p.m.)

January 20: vs Detroit (2 p.m.)

January 26: at Atlanta (6 p.m.)

February 3: vs Golden State (7 p.m.)

February 11: vs Chicago (7 p.m.)

February 21: vs Cleveland (7 p.m.)

February 26: vs Brooklyn (7 p.m.)

March 3: at Sacramento (10 p.m.)

March 10: vs New York (7 p.m.)

March 18: at Brooklyn (7:30 p.m.)

March 15: vs Phoenix (7 p.m.)

April 1: vs New Orleans (7 p.m.)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Warriors' Stephen Curry could return from injury on March 1 vs Wizards

Warriors' Stephen Curry could return from injury on March 1 vs Wizards

According to The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II, Steph Curry is aiming to return to play on March 1 when the Golden State Warriors host the Washington Wizards.

This game will be second of a four-game West coast swing, starting in Utah and hitting San Francisco, Sacramento and Portland before returning home.

Curry has been sidelined since Oct. 30 with a broken left hand. He had surgery on Nov. 1 and was ruled out at least three months.

If he does indeed return on March 1, he could play in 22 more regular season games this year. There were rumors that he would sit the entire season, but apparently Curry is focused on a return this spring, according to more from Thompson II. 

"I've been making progress," Curry said via NBC Sports Bay Area during the Warriors game vs Orlando on Saturday. "No setbacks which is definitely encouraging to get back to 100% as soon as possible."

The Wizards vs Warriors game will tipoff at 8:30 p.m. EST.

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