Otto Porter Jr. joins Warriors for veteran’s minimum, passes on MLE offer, per Chris Haynes

Former No. 3 pick, 7’ wingspan, history of injuries

After a quiet afternoon on the first day of free agency, that saw the Golden State Warriors wave goodbye to Kent Bazemore, who passed up a two-year deal to join the Los Angeles Lakers for one year (per Shams Charania), the Warriors signed their first free agent of 2021: Otto Porter, Jr.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, “OPJ” is signing at the veteran’s minimum, which allows the Dubs to retain use of their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (or MLE, a potentially multi-year contract slotted at $5.9 million) to try to net a bigger fish such as Patty Mills, Paul Millsap or old friend Andre Iguodala, as has been rumored by credible NBA reporters.

Porter, Jr. is your classic 3&D wing player. He’s 6’8” (listed as 6’9” per Wikipedia) with a 7’1” wingspan, and is a career 40% shooter from three-point range. He has been a solid defender his whole career, matching up decently with all types of perimeter players. You can check out his stats below.

Porter was the No. 3 pick in 2013, when his college coach, John Thompson III, proclaimed him the top pick in the Draft. His comparable at the time, as described by OPJ himself as well as scouts, was Tayshaun Prince, a key cog of the last Detroit Pistons championship squad. It’s fun to look back at Porter’s hype, as you can see on NBADraft.net, which actually links to the articles from that time (i.e., they did not write their own articles about Porter). He was a prototype 3&D player before the role was dubbed as such in this modern era of the NBA.

So why is Porter signing a minimum contract? Aren’t 3&D wings getting over $10 million a year, such as is expected with Kelly Oubre’s free agency? The story so far for Porter has been his availability. Check those stats again and look at games played. He has suffered a series of injuries to his feet and back over the course of his career which has left him struggling to stay on the floor.

Last year he played 28 games. The year before, just half that, 14. He is currently on track to be healthy to start the season, but there is obviously concern about his history of injuries:

Ultimately, this is a pretty harmless roster gamble on a potentially great addition to the team. If OPJ can remain healthy, he can be a reliable veteran wing to plug into closing lineups and tutor the Warriors’ rookies on an incredible bargain.

If he can’t stay healthy, this will only be a minimum one-year deal, and they’ll sign more people in the next few days to help, as well.

It’s also very reassuring that the Dubs are still considered a prime destination for a free agent to be showcased, as Porter reportedly passed up more money to join the squad.