Coveted Free Agent ‘Leaning’ Toward Signing With Nets: Report

Otto Porter Jr.

Getty Otto Porter Jr. shoots in front of Spencer Dinwiddie during the first half of a game between the Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center on March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.

With the NBA draft now in the rearview mirror, the mayhem of free agency is nearly upon us. Officially, players can begin signing with teams beginning at 6 p.m. EST Monday.

For the Nets, it marks the beginning of a crucial period that could wind up making or breaking their championship hopes next season. Brooklyn, with a roster that is loaded with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving leading the way, already is one of the top few title favorites heading into the 2021-22 campaign. But as this past season showed, a quality supporting cast will be necessary to help facilitate a deep playoff run.

With that in mind, one free agent makes a lot of sense for the Nets — and he appears to be leaning in their direction.

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Otto Porter Jr. ‘Leaning’ Toward Nets

Otto Porter Jr. has never quite lived up to the lofty expectations that come with being a No. 3 overall pick, but the 28-year-old has still had a productive NBA career as he’s turned himself into a quality role player.

Across 441 career games, Porter Jr. has made 301 starts and averaged 10.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 3-pointers and 1.1 steals per game. The 6-foot-8 forward spent last season with the Bulls and Magic while playing the final season of a ​​four-year, $106.5 million contract he initially signed with the Washington Wizards four years ago.

At the time, the Nets tendered him a four-year, $106.5 million deal offer sheet that the Wizards wound up matching. Now it seems Porter Jr. wants to take matters into his own hands.

According to Tony Jones of The Athletic, Porter has his sights set on joining the Nets. Jones, who covers the Utah Jazz, wrote that the Jazz have interest in Porter and Rudy Gay, but both veterans have their own preferred destinations.

Here’s Jones’ insight into Utah’s pursuit of Porter (and Gay), from his recent piece for The Athletic:

Otto Porter Jr. and Rudy Gay are two players the Jazz hold interest in. But those names also come with caveats. Gay is thought to be leaning toward the Los Angeles Lakers. Porter is thought to be leaning to the Brooklyn Nets. In free agency, anything can happen. So, perhaps the Jazz can get one of them. But Gay and Porter are valuable role players on title-type teams. They are both versatile offensively, and they are the kind of long and athletic forwards that every team covets. So, competition for both will be steep.

Enter the Nets, who, as Jones described, would bring offensive versatility to a Nets team that would benefit from that kind of depth. He’s a career 40.2 percent 3-point shooter.

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Could Porter Have an Impact Like Blake Griffin for His Next Team?

Porter has dealt with injuries for years; most recently, back problems hindered his 2020-21 campaign.

But Blake Griffin is living proof that joining a title contender can bring out the best in a veteran.

The Nets signed Griffin about midway through last season after the six-time All-Star was bought out by the Detroit Pistons. Griffin, who’s impact had dipped dramatically toward the end of his stint with the Pistons, looked like a new player upon joining Brooklyn — not necessarily like a six-time All-Star, but a valuable role player that played meaningful minutes for a title-contending Nets team.

Perhaps that will be Porter Jr.’s future, too. Time will soon tell.

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