Otto Porter turned in another outstanding performance on Monday to help lift the Wizards past the Nets. He racked up 18 points, hit four of his five three-point attempts, grabbed 3 steals before fouling out late in the game. His strong, efficient play in spite of the Wizards’ struggles is forcing people around the league to take notice.
Otto Porter (?!) is averaging 15-8 with two steals, shooting 54% from the field and 41% from 3-point range.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 6, 2016
Two front office execs in last 24 hours predicted to me he's getting a max. He's been really good. https://t.co/fhUpOLY5UQ— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) December 6, 2016
The “Otto Porter: Max Player” talk might sound a little crazy, but as Nick Bilka pointed out on Twitter, he compares pretty favorably with other players wing players who got max deals last season, like Harrison Barnes and Nicolas Batum. Of course, he has to make sure he can maintain these numbers throughout the season and avoid injury, but if he can keep it up, he’s going to command a lot of money.
The good news is Porter is a restricted free agent, so even if someone comes out and offers Porter a max deal, the Wizards can match that offer and keep him in Washington. The flip side is the Wizards already have a lot of money committed for next season, so Porter might not even have to go to another team for leverage because the Wizards would have little to no cap space to sign a replacement if he left.
On top of all of this, the Wizards are going to have to reckon with what giving Porter a max or near-max deal will do to their payroll. Maxing him won’t put the team over the luxury tax, but it will push the team a lot closer to that threshold, which isn’t the thing you really want to hear for a team that’s currently 12th in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see if Washington tries to shed some salary at the deadline to give them some more flexibility, and if so, how they’ll try to incentivize other teams to try to take on some of players with long-term salary.
There will certainly be more time to talk about that in the future, but in the meantime, let’s try to enjoy the fact that Porter is blossoming into a special player in Washington. He’s now averaging 14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep. The only other player that’s averaging at least 14 & 8 while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep? That’s right, Kevin Durant.