It’s been an odd year for the Golden State Warriors. Out of the gate, they appeared to be the most dangerous team in the league. They started the season 18-2, a record to which they arrived thanks in part to two separate seven-game winning streaks. Steph Curry was the MVP favorite; the team, a relative lock for title contention.
Then, everyone got hurt. The team slipped a bit. They’ve slipped from #1 with a bullet to third in the West. It hasn’t been a steep drop, but given the way it all began, it’s far from what one might consider ideal. We aren’t 100-percent sure what to make of this team anymore, especially since the second Klay Thompson began to round into form and Draymond Green returned from injury, Steph Curry went down with an injury of his own. (Marcus Smart was making a basketball play; don’t get it twisted.)
Steph came up limping after fighting for a loose ball pic.twitter.com/hOjIvE2f8k— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 17, 2022
Despite its wide array of misfortunes, there have been plenty of pleasant, reliable surprises for the Warriors. Jordan Poole is electric. Gary Payton II just dunks all the time. And Otto Porter Jr., now on his fourth team in as many seasons, has been a valued utility forward off the bench: he’s averaging eight points and five rebounds while shooting 37 percent from three in 21.6 minutes per contest. He’ll likely be coveted league-wide this offseason, whether it’s to stay with Golden State or to sign elsewhere.
Say the Warriors were unable to reach a deal for an extension with Porter Jr. this offseason, for whatever reason, or say the vet simply plans to look for a change of scenery — MassLive’s Brian Robb sees the Celtics as a potential destination. They might be willing to offer the swingman a deal for the mid-level exception.
“Porter Jr. surprised people in NBA circles a lot during free agency last offseason when he turned down bigger contracts to take a veteran’s minimum deal with the Warriors,” Robb wrote. “He’s been a valuable bench player for them this season as a shooter/defender to your point off the bench and he would fill that role wherever he decides to go next season, including Boston... The question is whether Porter Jr. would prefer to stay in Golden State on a cheap deal during their title window or if another contender like Boston could swoop in and offer him more money.”
If the Warriors end up itching to keep OPJ on the roster next season, they’d likely aim to do so on a mid-level deal, if not another minimum contract. But should Porter Jr. have an itch of his own, perhaps for a bit more than the league minimum he took this season to play with one of the title favorites, the Celtics could be a suitor. Boston could certainly offer him the mid-level exception, and would likely be interested in doing so. You can never have too much depth on the wings, and Porter Jr.’s reliability from deep could do wonders for the C’s whenever Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown need a breather.
Sure, the Warriors entered this season with high hopes, and perhaps a healthier group returning next season could see them return to the championship conversation for good — or at least for a little while. But given their resurgence over the back half of this season, maybe Boston is the next big destination for veterans seeking that ever-elusive title. It’s just speculation for now, but maybe Porter Jr. could be the first domino to fall.