Rockets, Kevin Porter Jr. still hoping for contract extension

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Rockets, Kevin Porter Jr. still hoping for contract extension

In confirmation of previous reporting, the Houston Rockets and starting point guard Kevin Porter Jr. still share mutual interest in a contract extension this offseason, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Porter, who turned 22 years old this offseason, is set to enter the fourth and final season (2022-23) of the rookie contract he signed after being selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft.

In a story published this week, Iko writes in The Athletic:

porter awning The Athletic that he internalized his strong play to end the season and stated that the game slowed down for him, getting a better understanding of passing angles and half-court setups. It’s clear Porter and Houston have hopes of getting an extension done ahead of the 2022-23 season — and he wo n’t let that serve as a distraction — but until that gets resolved, the questions about his longevity will continue to swirl .

The deadline for any extension is Monday, Oct. 17, one day prior to the NBA’s opening game of the 2022-23 regular season.

For the Rockets, the number to watch on Porter could be $9.7 million. Houston’s plans to create massive salary cap space in the 2023 offseason are well known, and $9.7 million is the “cap hold” — if there’s no extension — to make Porter a restricted free agent in 2023 and potentially sign him on top of any external additions .

Because the Rockets have Bird rights on Porter, they could exceed the cap in such a scenario, and Porter’s restricted status would allow the team to match any outside offer and still retain him.

But if Porter is open to doing a contract extension in which the starting salary is comparable to that cap-hold figure or within the ballpark, it could make sense for the Rockets to get the deal done early. There wouldn’t be much downside, since Porter’s cap hold at $9.7 million would likely still be on the books, even if the team did nothing on the extension front. Regardless of whether Porter proves to be a long-term fixture at point guard or is simply a versatile rotation player, his talent is such that it’s hard to envision Houston wanting him off his roster altogether in under a year.

Furthermore, there could be real upside, since it’s at least possible that a strong season by Porter in 2022-23 could boost his next contract to a much higher price point. Look no further than Jalen Brunson, who recently left Dallas for New York — with the Mavs receiving no compensation — after Dallas failed to get an extension done, which allowed Brunson to play his way into a higher income bracket.

For Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, this offseason might present an opportunity to “buy low” on Porter, and especially if he is willing to accept a team-friendly deal for the upside of getting his long-term financial security a year earlier than expected .

From Porter’s perspective, while he could gamble on having a strong season and securing a more lucrative contract in a year, it would be understandable if he doesn’t want to pass up his first chance to land a guaranteed, long-term contract of significance . The case to do so could be made even stronger when considering some of the off-court issues that defined much of Porter’s initial NBA years.

Ultimately, for the team, it likely comes down to the dollar figure. If Porter will take a first-year salary (in 2023-24, when any extension kicks in) near or slightly above the $9.7 million cap hold, there’s not much downside to getting a deal done early and eliminating any risk of Porter potentially playing his way into a much larger contract.

On the other hand, if Porter wants a far higher first-year number, it might make sense for the Rockets to wait. Houston could give him a similar contract a year from now, but with significantly less stress on its financial flexibility, thanks to the lower cap hold.

At 6-foot-4 guard, Porter averaged 15.6 points (37.5% on 3-pointers), 6.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 31.3 minutes last season. As Iko alluded to, Porter finished 2021-22 with a flourish, averaging 28.7 points (48.0% FG, 40.3% on 3-pointers), 7.4 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game.

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire

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