Undeterred by three previous failed attempts to land a restricted free agent, Nets general manager Sean Marks swung for the fences again Tuesday when he reportedly reached an agreement with Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr. on a maximum four-year contract worth $106.5 million, including a first-year salary of $24.75 million.
Porter quickly reached agreement on the Nets’ offer sheet after the Kings and possibly the Hawks dropped out of the bidding by moving on to other deals that reduced their available salary cap space. The Kings were the first team to make a max offer to Porter, but he and agent David Falk chose to listen to the Nets over the long Fourth of July weekend rather than sign the Kings’ offer sheet.
News of Porter’s agreement with the Nets first was reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical. The moratorium on actual free-agent signings lifts at noon ET on Thursday, and the Wizards have two full days after that to decide whether to match. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, that means the Wizards actually can wait until 11:59 p.m. ET Saturday night to announce their decision.
An NBA source previously told Newsday the Wizards are adamant about matching any offer to Porter even if it makes him the highest-paid player on the team over Bradley Beal and John Wall in order to keep that triumvirate together. However, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis never has paid the luxury tax, so, Marks is putting him to the test by signing Porter to a deal that will put the Wizards over the luxury tax line if they match it.
According to the calculations in one ESPN report, the Wizards would be $7.2 million over the tax line and subject to a penalty of $11.4 million if they matched the Nets’ offer to Porter. Marks is 0-for-3 on previous restricted free agent offers that all were matched by their teams, but you never know when his patience might pay off.
Marks declined to comment as a matter of policy when contacted by Newsday. Earlier on Tuesday, internet sleuths detected signs the Nets were negotiating with Porter when they pounced on a photograph of point guard Jeremy Lin posing with a fan in the lobby of the Washington, D.C. hotel where Falk’s office is located. Lin previously said he would help with recruiting if asked by the organization, and apparently, he was successful.
Now, the ball is in the Wizards’ court. They have made a super-max contract offer to Wall, but he held off signing while waiting to see what the Wizards do. So, matching the offer to Porter could be a big risk should Wall decide to leave as a free agent in a year. Until the Wizards announce their decision, $28 million of the Nets’ $30 million in salary cap space will be tied up.