It would have made complete sense for Otto Porter Jr. to stick with the Golden State Warriors as an NBA free agent this summer, to re-up with a high quality organization where he had a role and the memories of a championship run were fresh in his mind.
No one would have blinked an eye had the 29-year-old Missouri native done a longer-term deal to keep playing with a legitimate NBA championship contender.
But there he was Wednesday afternoon, sitting on the podium at the OVO Training Centre explaining how he became the lone summer acquisition of the Raptors to date. He was drawn by some pretty lofty expectations.
“Obviously winning a championship (with Golden State), I think a lot of guys were expecting everybody to be back to run at it again. It was a tough decision,” the six-foot-eight forward said. “I’m locked in with those guys for life, we had an unbelievable year but this is a new opportunity for me — to come to Toronto and have aspirations of winning a championship here.”
Bold talk, indeed.
“I had some offers, other offers, but this is definitely a place I wanted to go to,” he said. “You know, my wife is from here, it’s just a lot easier for the family; a great organization, a great team, young team that has aspirations to get back to the top.
“Winning a championship last year in Golden State, I feel like I can bring that experience here to help the younger guys out. Being with Thad again (he and Thad Young were teammates in Chicago two seasons ago), I know he has been there and done it with his leadership and (he is going) to continue to give guidance to the young guys.”
When Porter was weighing his immediate future, there was much to draw him to Toronto, including the way the Raptors play and the makeup of the roster. He is another that fits the team’s prototype, somewhere between six-foot-seven and six-foot-10, long, athletic, versatile.
“It factored a lot because it’s so diverse and so many different types of players that we have here, it makes it that much more fun,” he said. “Playing against a whole lineup … six-(foot-)seven to seven feet, it’s hard to play against. I think with this team we’re capable of going very far in the playoffs, I think this team is definitely ready to get back to The Finals.”
One thing Porter does that the Raptors desperately need is take and make three-point shots. He’s a 40 per cent shooter from deep over his career and he realizes the Raptors could use that skill from someone in the frontcourt.
“It’s key to today’s NBA, spacing the floor,” he said. “And I was able to do that in Golden State and help space the floor for guys to penetrate and get to the rim. Hopefully I can bring that here, where (Fred) VanVleet can get downhill more, Pascal (Siakam) can have more room to operate, Scottie (Barnes) can have more room to operate.”
What Porter hasn’t always been is healthy. He played 63 games with Warriors last season but hadn’t played more than 56 in a season since 2017-18, which had to factor into the contract he signed. It’s only for two seasons — the second is at Porter’s option — and runs out to slightly more than $12 million (U.S.).
It’s not a huge risk for the Raptors and does represent a significant raise off the $2.4 million he was paid on a minimum value deal by the Warriors last season.
“(Playing so much last season) just showed that I can get back to that level, I can play at a high level,” the former No. 3 draft pick said. “You just see all the hard work paid off in the off-season, getting your body ready, because … it’s a lot of ups and downs.”
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