By Brian Lewis July 4, 2017 | 9:57pm
The Nets cleared a huge hurdle Tuesday by signing top free-agent target Otto Porter Jr. to an offer sheet. Now all they can do is wait and see if the Wizards match it. And considering Brooklyn’s history, it’s going to be a nervous wait .
Porter is the top restricted free agent in this summer’s market, a 24-year-old small forward who could accelerate the team’s rebuild. But Nets general manager Sean Marks is 0-3 when it comes to landing restricted free agents, inking Miami guard Tyler Johnson, Portland wing Allen Crabbe and Houston big man Donatas Motiejunas to offer sheets last summer before seeing their respective teams match.
The Nets are hoping the fourth time is the charm. The Nets and Porter came to an agreement on a four-year, $106 million maximum deal, one that starts at $24.7 million and was first reported by ESPN. The moratorium lifts at midnight Thursday, and the Wizards have two full days to match the offer, meaning until midnight Saturday. The Nets have $28 million in cap space, and it will all be tied up until Washington decides whether to match.
For months sources have repeatedly told The Post the Wizards will match any offer to Porter, but the posturing has become so loud now it begs the question whether it’s just posturing. Brooklyn can only hope so.
Washington already has $99 million tied up in a dozen players before matching the offer sheet, which would push the Wizards commitments to $124 million. The Wizards are one of just three teams to have never paid the luxury tax. They could match the offer sheet and afterward simply look to dump salary elsewhere.
The Kings already had extended Porter a maximum offer sheet, but he and agent David Falk opted to meet with the Nets before signing it. The Kings proceeded to make a series of moves Tuesday that took them out of the race, adding both George Hill ( three years, $57 million) and Zach Randolph (two years, $24 million).
Despite reports that Utah reached out to Porter at the last minute, after losing its own small forward Gordon Hayward to Boston, the 6-foot-8 Georgetown product still opted to sign with Brooklyn.
Marks and Falk both declined comment when reached by The Post. But Porter was believed to have met with the Nets in Washington, over the holiday weekend, and Jeremy Lin had said he would be actively involved in recruiting free agents.
Coincidentally, Lin was photographed Monday in Washington, by one of his legion of loyal fans, seemingly in the same hotel where Falk’s office is located. Whatever Marks’ pitch was, it went well.
Now he and the Nets only can sit and wait to see if they get their man.
At an NBA-worst 20-62 last season, the Nets are in the midst of an arduous rebuild, but Porter would turbocharge that process. He was second in the NBA in Offensive Rating and fourth in 3-point shooting percentage.
Ironically, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that if the Wizards match the offer to Porter, the Nets may revisit acquiring Johnson, to whom they gave a four-year, $50 million offer sheet last July. Teams that bid on restricted free agents can’ t acquire them for a year, so the Nets can’t trade for him until at least Monday.
Meanwhile, the Nets are likely continuing to monitor both opportunities to dump salary (Milwaukee, Toronto, etc.) and potential free-agent bargains as the market starts to dry up and solid players are left without contracts.