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What kind of early extension should the Wizards offer Otto Porter this summer?

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The Wizards small forward year improved across the board, but didn't live up to lofty expectations from the organization and fans. With the early extension deadline looming in

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By nearly any objective measure, Otto Porter's third year in the NBA was a significant improvement over second, and his improvement wasn't just a result of more playing time. Otto's production was up across the board this season and he even produced better in some areas than he did during his breakout performance in last year's playoffs.

Porter Year Over Year

Nevertheless, his season was still a disappointment for many Wizards fans after his breakout playoff performance. Defensively, he never became the kind of stopper that the Wizards had with Trevor Ariza, and his slight build allowed stronger small forwards like Carmelo Anthony push him around in a way that they couldn't outmuscle Porter's predecessor Paul Pierce. He shot a respectable 36.7 percent from beyond the arc this season, but he hovered in the 30 percent range for the crucial 2 months of the season where the Wizards needed offense in the absence of Bradley Beal and Nene.

On the whole, he didn't show the kind of assertiveness on offense and/or dominance on defense that one might expect from a #3 pick in the draft.

But here's the thing: where Otto Porter was picked doesn't matter anymore. The Wizards organization has to analyze the player they have now, his potential to improve, and determine where he fits into their future plans. One of those key decision points will come this fall when the Wizards have to decide whether to offer Porter an early extension prior to the last year of his rookie contract.

Signing Porter to an extension before he hits the market could lock up a young talented player who has improved every year in Washington, and avoid the risk that he takes a big jump forward next season that forces the team to use most of the team's salary cap increase to retain him. The question would be, how much would it cost to sign Otto Porter to an early extension?

Given the rising cap and the relative infrequency of early extensions, comparables are few and far between. However there are a few, in the form of last year's early extensions and reported offers.

Here is a summary from SBNation's Blazers' site, Blazers Edge, of the early extensions from the 2012 draft.

CLASS OF 2012 EARLY EXTENSIONS

Anthony Davis

New Orleans Pelicans

5-year, $125M*

Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers

5-year, $125M*

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Charlotte Hornets

4-year, $52M

John Henson

Milwaukee Bucks

4-year, $44M

Terrence Ross

Toronto Raptors

3-year, $33M

Jeremy Lamb

Charlotte Hornets

3-year, $21M

* - Both contracts are full max deals that include bonuses Davis and Lillard earned for All-NBA honors.

Besides the obvious franchise cornerstone players of Davis and Lillard, we have a couple of useful comparables for Otto Porter in young wings Terrence Ross and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. We can also add Cavaliers wing Iman Shumpert, who signed a 4 year, $40 million contract with the Cavaliers over the summer , and Harrison Barnes, who turned down a 4 year, $64 million extension offer with the Warriors and who may be one of the most sought after free agents who is actually available this summer.

Otto Porter vs. Early Extenders

Porter's numbers are right in line with the other wings listed. He compares favorably to Ross/Shumpert, and perhaps a little lower than MKG/Barnes when you consider Gilchrist's defense and Barnes's shooting. Nevertheless, given the rising cap, this make the 4 years, $48 million that was discussed on the Bullets Forever Podcast seem reasonable and possibly even a little low for what he's done so far in his career.

There are reasons for both sides to agree on an early extension in this range for Porter. He could bet on himself and potentially get more money next summer, but there is something to be said for the security of long-term money to insure against injury, and the opportunity to stay in the only city he's played in as an adult. For the Wizards, it would be an opportunity to lock up a young, improving player long term for a reasonable amount of money.

The move wouldn't necessarily hamper the Wizards future flexibility either. Take the example of the Toronto Raptors. They gave early extensions to Jonas Valanciunas (2011 draft) of 4 years, $64 million and Terrence Ross at 3 years, $33 million. If the Raptors wish to clear up cap space, they could easily move either of these contracts into another team's space or get decent players in return and it's hard to imagine that Jonas or Ross would have gotten less money on the free agent market this summer.

Similarly, the Wizards could maintain their core young starters (Wall, Beal, Porter and Morris) while maintaining flexibility going forward. There is a point at which the Wizards say no (he's not getting Giannis money, after all), and that will be based on where the market is set this summer. But the Wizards shouldn't be afraid to say yes to the right number. Even if Porter's peak is merely as a competent starter rather All-Star, it's worth trying to lock him up as part of Washington's future.