The two sides want to come to an agreement soon, according to reports.
The story of the last couple of years regarding Kevin Porter Jr. has been twofold. First is Porter Jr. the right player to run the point guard position? And then what to do with his impending contract situation?
Porter Jr. is coming up on the last year of his rookie contract, and a major decision will have to be made by the Houston Rockets and for Porter Jr. on whether they should extend his contract now or wait and let the market dictate his next deal.
Today we received an update on this situation from Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. and the organization have mutual interest in a contract extension before the start of the 2022-23 season, sources said.”#Rockets #LightTheFuse pic.twitter.com/w3vaZMGdR6
— Paulo Alves (@PauloAlvesNBA) July 25, 2022
Before this news came out today, the prevailing thought was that the Rockets would wait until the following offseason to work on an extension or let him walk if Porter Jr. didn’t improve from last season. However, a deal would be beneficial for both sides in the long run.
Why it makes sense for the Rockets
First, for the Rockets, you would have a potential starting caliber point guard under contract for three, possibly four years. Yes, some concerns have been regarding Porter Jr.’s attitude on the court or in the locker room. The incident at halftime last year comes to mind when he left the arena during the game. Of course, the issues are well chronicled in his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Since coming to the Rockets, those issues have been few and far between. The Rockets have complete confidence in Porter Jr., evident by the fact that they were willing to let John Wall sit out an entire year instead of putting him in the starting lineup ahead of the third-year guard. Last year, like all of the Rockets, Porter Jr. struggled the first half of the season. Injuries and poorly constructed lineups had a lot to do with that.
Porter Jr., however, started to show why the Rockets were willing to go all in on him at the point. Post-All-Star Kevin Porter Jr. averaged 18.9 points, 6.1 assists, 2.5 turnovers, and shot 43.5 percent from the field compared to 13.7 points, 6.2 assists, 3.5 turnovers, and 39.9 percent from the field before the All-Star break. Those are huge improvements for any player to finish out the year, especially averaging one less turnover per game in the last 22 games he played.
Also, remember the Dallas Mavericks couldn’t get a deal done for Jalen Brunson before last season started, and Brunson had a career year last year, which then put him out of the Mavs’ price range. A similar situation could happen to the Rockets.
Why it makes sense for Kevin Porter Jr.
Some will ask why Porter Jr. would take that deal now instead of just waiting to see if he has a better year? A couple of reasons.
Porter Jr. has dealt with injury issues in the past, and another injury this year could hamper any potential deal he gets next off-season. Also, it is not guaranteed that Porter Jr. will have a breakout season.
If he has an average season, the market might dictate he only gets $8 million per year instead of possibly double that if he signs before the 2022-23 season starts. Porter Jr. is making a little over $3 million a year this coming season, with a qualifying offer for 2023-24. If he has an off year, it’s a real possibility he would have to play the following season at only $4 million. A new multi-year contract gives Porter Jr., a late first-round pick three years ago, a guaranteed contract for the next three or four years, possibly five times what he is making now.
Three years at $12-15 million a year with a possible player option on a fourth year is a reasonable contract for both sides. It gives the Rockets a starting point guard who showed promise, a good deal on a young upcoming player, and Porter Jr. a multi-year guarantee raise. Under the worse circumstance, the Rockets would still have a young player with a manageable deal that could be used in a trade. At best, you get a possible most improved player who you have under contract for the next three or four years to play alongside your franchise player in Jalen Green.