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Top Stories of the Week: John Wall and Otto Porter announce their max extensions, Mystics hit the injury bug

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Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

It’s mid July, and we’re in the middle of the longest and most intense heat wave of the summer of 2017. Let’s just hope that a derecho doesn’t strike like it did on the evening of June 29, 2012.

With the middle of the summer upon us, we still have some links on the Wizards while the Mystics continue their run in the midseason. So, let’s get right to it.

John Wall is a #WizardForLife

I pre wrote this post early Friday evening and was about to sleep.

Then this happened:

On Friday night, John Wall announced that he signed the designated player extension with the Wizards. It will pay him $170 million over four years from the 2019-20 season through the 2022-23 season, so it’s not like this actually cost the Wizards immediate cap space.

The Wizards may not have been aggressive trying to get players from other teams in free agency. But they’ve been aggressive keeping their core together. This announcement is the latest testament to that.

Otto Porter meets with the media after signing his max deal

Otto Porter signed his maximum-level offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this month and the Wizards promptly matched once they had the opportunity. At his press conference on Wednesday, Porter mentioned that he was happy to stay in Washington and stated that the Wizards need a championship “desperately” according to AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today Sports.

Though Porter is now a max player, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post correctly notes that he is ultimately a supporting cast member — which the Wizards need him to be.

I know that many of you are scratching your heads. Otto Porter’s not the franchise player (John Wall) and he’s not the “partner-in-crime/Star 1-A” (Bradley Beal) of the team. Yet, he’s making a higher annual salary than anyone else this fall.

On the one hand, I’m sympathetic with those who believe that Porter isn’t a “true max” player like Wall or Beal. However, he has the benefit of two things. First, the salary cap has gone up considerably in the last couple seasons as the NBA received new broadcasting deals. Second, Porter is a multi dimensional wing who is an efficient three point shooter.

It’s true that Porter has never been a 20 ppg scorer like Wall or Beal were last season after they signed their sophomore deals. Many people note that Porter should produce more points on the court because of his max deal. Leonsis, however, disagrees. From Buckner’s piece:

“There’s one basketball and there’s a pecking order and John has the ball, and Bradley can make his own shot, and why we think this works is Otto fits. [Porter] doesn’t need the ball and we like his game the way it is,” Leonsis said. “The organization knows Otto and we know he’s at his best and most contributing to the team when he’s himself, right? When you get pressure on yourself to earn the max contract — no, you’ve already earned it! You earned the max deal by being yourself. You don’t have to be anything different. You just have to keep working to take that next step.”

Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports wrote a column last week that detailed a little more why the Wizards were set on giving Porter his max level extension. In short, Ted Leonsis mentioned that keeping porter is a “lower risk” than letting him walk to another team and hope another free agent signs with the team. Keeping Porter is also in line with Leonsis’ plan to keep their key drafted players together when it comes to the Wizards, Mystics, and Capitals:

  • Wizards: John Wall (2010), Bradley Beal (2012), Otto Porter (2013)
  • Mystics: Tayler Hill (2013), Emma Meesseman (2013), Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (undrafted in 2013)
  • Capitals: Alex Ovechkin (2004), Niklas Backstrom (2006). Braden Holtby (2008), Evgeny Kuznetsov (2010)

Unlike the Capitals and Mystics, the Wizards have a soft salary cap to deal with in the NBA where three players’ combined salaries are close to the soft limit. It’s rare for NBA teams to keep three players who earn 20 or more percent of the soft cap together for long, so there’s a chance that one of the three (Wall, Beal, or Porter) could be moved sometime in the future if a superstar is involved in a trade. But for now, let’s be happy that Porter’s still in D.C.

Otto gets to see the Mystics come out with a big win before All-Star break

The Mystics only played one game this week, as they beat the New York Liberty, 100-96 on Wednesday afternoon. The first quarter was ugly, but the Mystics turned things around as Kristi Toliver and Emma Meesseman led the Mystics back to their midseason form back in June. Along the way, Porter also gave an interview to Monumental Sports Network’s Dan Nolan:

In his interview, he praised the WNBA as a game of skills. And Otto is all about skills! He said that Ivory Latta’s mentality and skills best matches his. To me, I think Emma Meesseman is the better fit because they play a skills-first game and are noted for their efficiency.

The Mystics are All-Star-less this weekend

The WNBA All-Star Game is at 3 p.m. ET and you can watch it on ABC. The game will be at KeyArena in Seattle, home of the Storm.

Elena Delle Donne was named a starter, but she will not play because of her ankle injury. She’ll be re-evaluated during All-Star Break. No other Mystics players were named as reserves for the game, including Tayler Hill, who’s out due to tearing her right ACL last Friday.

Though no Mystics are playing in the game, we’ll see two recent former Mystics there. Sky center Stefanie Dolson made her second All-Star game this year and Sun guard Jasmine Thomas is starting for the East.

John Wall is working out hard for next season

The summer is the time when NBA players put in work to expand their games or get into better shape for the fall. Wall has been running his “Workout World Tour” where he’s boxed and biked his way into shape. Wait, this guy is already in great shape!”

Check out more posts on this piece from Lisa Redmond of CSN Mid Atlantic.

Meanwhile in D.C., Ted Leonsis thinks that Wall will sign his “supermax” extension this summer. He’s not worried about Wall’s commitment to the nation’s capital. To top it all off, Wall also made the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame and will be inducted in late September.

And more links!

Here are some more pieces for you to enjoy:

  • The G-League team needs a name. We have ideas.
  • We already know that Tayler Hill’s out for the season. But what if EDD’s out for a long time as well? At any rate, we want to see Emma Meesseman channel her “beast mode” like she did in EuroBasket last month.
  • Leonsis has said time and time again that Washington is becoming a “destination city.” Jen Smith of Wiz of Awes states that the bench production has to improve before the city can truly become a “destination.” If there’s one thing that does hurt the Wizards, especially here in Washington, it is their lack of “marketability” which Smith notes. It’s not uncommon to see many NBA fans in the D.C. area like the Redskins, the Nationals, and the Capitals. But they just aren’t that passionate for the Wizards.
  • Marcin Gortat met Prince William of the United Kingdom earlier this week which Scott Allen details on The D.C. Sports Bog. Gortat invited Prince William to a Wizards game and asked him what his favorite English Premier League team is:
  • Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post believes that the Wizards’ championship window is still open. That’s because Wall, Beal, and Porter are in their mid-20’s.
  • We got NINE out of 26 season predictions correct. BackScreenLob went line by line in this FanPost.
  • Finally, I’ll get back to Elena Delle Donne, who threw some shade at Lonzo Ball’s “Big Baller Brand” shoes not long ago before she got her ankle injury. As you can imagine, Team #BBB trolled her. Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post shared some of the more PG-rated tweets in this piece.

And that’s it!

These are just some of the many stories from the week that was. If you have another link that you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments, or preferably, as a FanPost.

Stay cool in this brutal D.C. heat everyone!