LAS VEGAS — Just as the Wizards always indicated they would do, they matched the Nets’ four-year, $106.5-million maximum offer to restricted free agent Otto Porter Jr. nearly two hours before the midnight deadline Saturday night. That means Nets general manager Sean Marks has thrown up his fourth straight air ball in the RFA market.
But Marks recovered later Saturday night by parlaying a Raptors salary dump into more valuable assets, including two future draft picks, turning a tough day for the Nets into a productive one.
According to an ESPN report, the Nets agreed to take eight-year veteran forward DeMarre Carroll, who has two years and $30.2 million remaining on his contract, to help the Raptors clear cap space. The Nets also received a lottery-protected 2018 first-round draft pick plus a 2018 second-round pick and shipped backup center Justin Hamilton to the Raptors.
The 6-8 Carroll previously played for Nets coach Kenny Atkinson in Atlanta and the two have a good relationship. Carroll will have a chance to compete with second-year player Caris LeVert for the starting small forward job, and he certainly can help mentor LeVert’s development.
Before the trade, Atkinson spoke Saturday after a Nets summer league practice about the importance of adding veteran leadership to a young team. “Sure, I think it’s possible,” he said of acquiring a veteran. “We’ve got to see how things play out with everything, but I do think we agree that we don’t want to go in with a totally young roster. We do need that veteran support.
“If it doesn’t happen, I do feel confident. You have Jeremy [Lin] and Trevor [Booker], obviously. If we don’t find the right guy, I think with the leadership of those guys, we can hold the fort down.”
Acquiring a 2018 first-round pick was vital for the Nets because their pick belongs to Boston as a result of an ill-fated 2014 trade. Marks has made it his mission to replenish the picks that were lost in that deal and now has succeeded in acquiring a first-round pick for the third straight draft.
Things didn’t go as well earlier in the day for the Nets’ GM, who previously failed to land Tyler Johnson, Allen Crabbe and Donatas Motiejunas when their teams matched his RFA offer sheets. An NBA source had told Newsday that Marks’ attempt to pry Porter from the Wizards’ control was “futile,” which is exactly what it turned out to be.
The news first was reported by The Washington Post and was confirmed by Newsday. The Wizards not only matched the offer but made it contingent on Porter reporting and undergoing a physical exam, multiple sources told Newsday.
Porter has a two-day window to report, and the Wizards then have a two-day window in which to decide whether to withdraw their match, which they will not do. The negative effect on the Nets is to keep $24.77 million of their salary-cap space — the equivalent of the first-year salary for Porter — tied up an extra three or four days to make it difficult for them to immediately sign other free agents. Even with that cap hold, however, the Nets have an additional $5.4 million of cap space available.
Faced with the likelihood of the Wizards matching the offer to Porter, the Nets made contingency plans. The Carroll trade obviously was their first move but not likely their last. The Nets reportedly have shown interest in wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, whose contract was renounced by the Pistons on Friday. They also had shown interest in Pacers free-agent forward C.J. Miles, but the Carroll deal makes that unlikely.
It’s conceivable the Nets could be interested in nine-year veteran power forward Ersan Ilyasova, a career 36.6 percent shooter from three-point range whose contract was renounced by the Hawks.