- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2017

All that remained was the physical. With that out of the way, the Washington Wizards took an expected and much-debated step Thursday when they matched Otto Porter’s maximum offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets.

Porter, 24, had his best season last year. He has excelled as a high-functioning piece of the Wizards‘ starting five, who, along with Bradley Beal and John Wall, has signed a massive long-term deal — $106 million for four years in this case — to stay with the organization that drafted him.

“After two years at Georgetown and four years with the Wizards here in Washington, D.C., I’m excited to be staying home,” Porter said in a statement. “I want our great fans to know that I will continue to work hard to improve my game in all areas and I hope to make an even bigger contribution to the Wizards‘ success in the future.”

Porter became a restricted free agent this offseason after the Wizards declined to pick up his contract option prior to the start of last season. The moves served Porter well.

He finished fourth in the NBA in 3-point shooting. He also became one of the league’s most efficient scorers, putting together an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 129. For context, not to intimate Porter is a better player, Kevin Durant’s offensive rating was a career-best 125 last season.

Signing Porter means he, Wall and Beal will be with the Wizards — barring an unforeseen trade — for at least the next two seasons. Washington is hopeful that Wall will sign a “super-max” contract that only they can offer. That would add four seasons to Wall’s two remaining seasons under contract. Beal is under contract until 2021.

Otto has developed into a vital part of our young core, which is why we made it clear that our priority was to keep him here to maintain continuity and build on the success of this group heading into next season and beyond,” team president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “His versatility, basketball IQ and three-point shooting combine to make him a great fit for us on the floor while his character and work in the community show why we’re so pleased to have him as a cornerstone of our franchise.”

Washington was locked into the move by Porter’s excellent play last season and its front office missteps in prior seasons. After executing a plan to clear cap space in an ineffective attempt to sign Durant, Washington ended up overspending for multiple bench players. Those deals put the team up against the salary cap this season and next. Porter’s deal pushed the Wizards into the luxury tax for the first time since Ted Leonsis took majority control of the team in 2010.

The Wizards were able to exceed the salary cap because they retained Porter’s Bird Rights. It was not a matter of choosing to off Porter money they could have offered to others.

At this point, though it is just mid-July, the Wizards‘ roster is close to set. Wall, Beal and Porter will again be joined by Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat in the starting lineup. Ian Mahinmi, Kelly Oubre, Tomas Satoransky, Jodie Meeks, Tim Frazier, Jason Smith, Mike Scott, Sheldon Mac and Daniel Ochefu round out the bench.

Washington finished last season with 49 wins, its most since 1979. It lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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