Warriors

Warriors and Porter a Perfect Pair

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Yes, the NBA trade season is here.

Everyone and everything is allegedly up for grabs. The public posturing by general managers is in full swing. Teams are trying to assess on a daily basis whether to buy, sell or wait and see.

The less-sexy side of trade season is the buyout market, which is poised to be ripe this year. Blake Griffin already caused waves signing with the Brooklyn Nets after his massive contract buyout. With one of the bigger names off the board, the wheels are already spinning on new buyout rumors.

Among other well-known names like Andre Drummond, George Hill and Trevor Ariza, Otto Porter Jr. has quietly entered the conversation. The Chicago Bulls may be a sneaky play-in team, but expectations are low as Porter heads into free agency. Teams aren’t eager or able to take on his $27.3 million cap hit this year, meaning Porter will likely hit the free-agent market between now and the trade deadline. For a 27-year-old, former No. 3 overall pick with a consistent career, this is unusual territory for Porter.

Why The Warriors Need Him

News of Porter exploring a buyout was attached to the speculation that the Warriors would have interest, and they should. The bench unit has slowly soured throughout the season, and lack of consistency on the wings has hurt the Dubs. When Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. leave the floor, it’s anyone’s guess what they can get out of their bench guys. Kent Bazemore and Damion Lee have had respectable years and hit big shots at times, and Juan Toscano-Anderson clearly has a future as a backup four.

Yet the overall production just hasn’t been there for this Warriors bench mob.

Having incredibly frustrating guard play and a lack of health at center has hurt a lot, too. It seems clear the Warriors are evaluating all their options at the backup guard spots, with Nico Mannion, Jordan Poole and Jeremy Lin all breathing down Brad Wanamaker‘s neck. They appear confident it’s a problem that can be fixed in-house without ruffling too many feathers. As James Wiseman and Kevon Looney get further from their injuries, there is reason for optimism for the bench bigs, though another body wouldn’t hurt.

Porter fills a huge gap as a true plug-and-play forward with a consistent two-way game. His defense has taken some hits in recent years but reduced minutes and a capable defensive unit around him can help recapture some of that success. He’s also a career 40% three-point shooter, even canning 43% of his five looks per game with Chicago. Porter is a modest playmaker for a wing, but he makes good decisions and keeps his turnovers down. A high-efficiency forward making quick decisions would be shot in the arm for this Warriors bench.

Why He Needs The Warriors

Finding yourself on the buyout market as a player isn’t exactly a positive career sign. Team play and contract situation factor in heavily, but guys that find themselves hitting the market in February have limited earning potential going forward. In order to understand this decision from Porter’s perspective, it’s important to know what the future of a buyout player looks like.

Since the new CBA was implemented in 2016, 24 players have been bought out mid-season and secured new contracts after that season, at an average annual value of $3.23 million. 18 of those players signed with a playoff team, garnering a $3.57M AAV in the years after. The six that didn’t go to the playoffs secured $1.7M per year. Considering all of these contracts came in below $8M per year, that is a drastic difference.

Players on the buyout market are mostly looking for two things; playing opportunity and rings. Finding a way to get adequate playing time and playoff exposure has financial rewards in the future for these players, and lack of playoff exposure can hurt.

But it’s hard for players in the middle of their careers to find themselves on true contenders. Only two of these 24 buyout players won championships and secured contracts the next season (Patrick McCaw with Toronto and Markieff Morris with LA).

It’s tough as hell to find the ideal balance of opportunity for earnings and rings when you’re still young.

At 27, Porter likely has a few rotation-caliber years ahead of him, if not more. He tasted the playoffs with the Wizards enough to know that level of competition. And if winning a ring is his desire, he could have his pick of contender. But if Porter believes he has tread left, it’s hard to imagine winning a ring is utmost priority now. 28-year-old wings that shoot 40% from three and play adequate defense are always in demand on the free-agency market.

For that reason, Porter should seek as much playing time and exposure as possible.

The Warriors can offer both, as a team in need of wing depth that appears likely to make the playoffs. What they bring to the table that no other team can is a boatload of midseason cash. The $9.36M Disabled Player Exception the Warriors were granted for Klay Thompson‘s season-ending injury can be applied to any trade or free agent through April 19th. Most teams in the position to give Porter a spot and a chance at the playoffs can only afford him through minimums or smaller exceptions.

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His highest earning potential elsewhere could be a hair under $3M in total on a prorated deal. The Warriors, already deep into the luxury tax, wouldn’t mind doubling (tripling? quadrupling?) down on their gigantic bill to secure a quality player. He could earn over $4M on the full prorated DPE.

Freeing a roster spot wouldn’t be as consequential to the Dubs as it would be to other teams. They appear to have some obvious candidates for release. Being able to give Porter 3-4 times the minimum gives them a big upper hand in negotiating. An extra $3 million is nothing to sneeze at, even for an NBA player.

Are You Listening Yet, Bob?

The opportunity to get a player of Porter’s quality and age without giving up draft capital or players is rare. He’s by no means a player who immediately puts them into a different level of contention, but healthy capable bodies are good as gold when it comes playoff time.

If he keeps firing away from deep and plays good defense, who knows? He could help the Warriors surprise a bit while earning himself a decent bag in the short and long term. With a use-it-or-lose-it $9 million burning a hole in Bob Myers’ gigantic pockets, throwing that precious cash at Otto Porter is the ideal outcome for both player and team.

Follow us on Twitter @DubsLead for the latest Warriors news and insight. 

About Charlie Cummings

Warriors writer born and raised in the Bay Area. University of Denver graduate currently living in Denver

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