The Golden State Warriors’ foray into free agency began late on Monday night when the team signed veteran wing Otto Porter Jr,, then continued into Tuesday with the addition of Nemanja Bjelica.
Porter, a one-time max contract recipient, chose the Dubs on a veteran minimum deal. Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reports that Porter even turned down better offers from other teams just so he could join Golden State.
Porter concluded last season in basketball purgatory — aka the Orlando Magic — after a midseason trade from his prior team, the Chicago Bulls. Over the previous two years, he’s been unable to stay on the court due to injury. In 2019-20, he managed to play just 14 games. In 2020-21, he doubled that number to 28, which is still well below what you’d want from a role player. Porter has been dealing with an assortment of foot and back injuries, which could have concerning longer-term effects.
But there’s a reason that, once upon a time, the Washington Wizards felt obligated to give Porter a max four-year deal — and no, it wasn’t just institutional incompetence that many have come to expect from their organization. The 28-year-old Porter is an incredible shooter (40.2% from 3-point range for his career) and still has the physical attributes to be a solid wing defender and rebounder for his new squad, even if he’s on the second unit. As he tries to re-launch his career, the Porter signing is ultimately a very low-risk, fairly high-reward situation.
Bjelica’s signing is a bit more straightforward. The 33-year-old big man had a small role with the Miami Heat last season until injuries to others eventually pushed him further up the bench and even into the starting lineup for a spell. From 2017-2020, Bjelica shot better than 40% from beyond the arc. Early in the 2020-21 season, as a member of the Sacramento Kings, Bjelica’s numbers dipped. Once he was dealt to Miami, he found his shooting stroke again, something that the Warriors hope will carry into the 2021-2022 campaign.
Porter and Bjelica might not be the big free agency splashes expected from a team that wants to return to championship contention, but they are, at the very least, a pair of smart signings.
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