Now that the Wizards have been eliminated from the playoffs, and the Mystics are just starting to get into their regular season flow, there isn’t a lot going on in the Washington basketball scene at the moment. It can be tempting to disengage a bit when it feels like there’s so little going on, but there’s been a few interesting pieces of content this week that are certainly worth your time on this long Memorial Day weekend.
The big talking point this week was Otto Porter’s free agency. Sean Deveney of the Sporting News wrote about how changing NBA dynamics have put Otto Porter in a position to rake in a lot of money, and included this nugget about the teams who will be in the hunt for him this summer:
“If his situation goes past the first couple of days of free agency,” one general manager told Sporting News, “it will cost them because some of these teams that have space and miss out on the players they have in mind to start with are going to move quickly to the restricted (free agents). And Otto Porter is going to be at the top of that list, even at $100 million.”
The Nets have long been rumored to be willing to pay up for Porter. The Wizards caught a break when the Mavericks traded for Nerlens Noel, another restricted free agent, because Dallas intends to make him an offer in the max range — the Mavs had intended to pursue Porter. League sources suggest the Magic and Sixers will also consider making offers for Porter.
Whether you think it’s fair or not, the market is the market. Let’s just hope Otto cleans up his Instagram regardless of what happens.
It’s also been a big week for former Wizards. Jan Vesely won a EuroLeague title after Fenerbache took down Olympiacos in the championship game on Sunday. Vesely had 8 points and 8 rebounds in the win. Vesely’s win also led to this sobering tweet:
We're like two weeks from the person on the left being a European champ and the one on the right being an NBA champ. pic.twitter.com/27Qq3dZm3q— KL Chouinard (@KLChouinard) May 21, 2017
Speaking of McGee, a story came out this week about he was sued by his former landlord in Dallas for damage to a property he rented there while he was on the Mavericks. The most McGee part of the story: He had to pay “$9,350 in cat-related fees” to settle the dispute.
The Mystics’ trip to Chicago also included Elena Delle Donne’s first game back in Chicago after asking to be traded from Chicago during the offseason. The atmosphere was a bit subdued since it was a Wednesday afternoon game, but Delle Donne and the Sky’s owner both had some things to say regarding life after their split.
Let’s start with Delle Donne, who talked with Patricia Babcock McGraw of the Chicago Daily Herald about what it was like to face her former teammates:
"I've been in touch with them and continue to be friends with them, (but) obviously, there's nerves. It's weird being here with all the talk around it and the things that have been said. I'm a human being. I'm aware of being back here and it being different. But the biggest thing is that I'm thrilled with where I'm at and I'm really happy with this team. It's been a great road so far."
Meanwhile, the Sky’s owner Michael Alter tried to make the case his team is still in a good spot after dealing their star:
Shipping former league MVP Elena Delle Donne to the Washington Mystics in February also meant waving goodbye to other perks. Gone is the media attention she drew for the Sky during a four-year tenure in which paid attendance rose 27 percent to more than 7,000 fans per game last year. Gone are the images of her donning the Sky blue and yellow in national ads for Gatorade and Nike, two of her most prominent endorsement partners.
Yet the annual losses for the Sky, which just started their 2017 season, are smaller than they were a year ago, Alter says. "There's no question Elena's a star player and a lot of people love to watch her play, and a lot of people identify the Sky with her," he says. "But (the trade) hasn't affected our business in a negative way at all."
The good news for Mystics fans is they’re clearly winning the early part of the trade, based on this week’s results.