Monday Daily Duncs (10/17/22)

Kevin Porter Jr.

The Rockets are signing Kevin Porter Jr. to a unique rookie-scale contract extension.

The deal has been reported as $82.5 million over four years. But the base salary sounds like it's closer to $71 million. And just $15.89 million is guaranteed, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the first season is fully guaranteed. Then, the summer before the second season, Houston must decide whether to guarantee the second and third seasons. Before the third season, Houston must decide whether to guarantee the fourth season.

As of now, the final three years are fully unguaranteed, per Marks. Certain benchmarks would increase the guarantees.

Marks also reports the deal contains incentives, which makes sense. With a $15.89 million starting salary, the largest-value over four years would be just over $71 million.

Porter is 22 and highly talented. He also got ran out of Cleveland for throwing a food-throwing tantrum in the Cavaliers' locker room and left a January Rockets game at halftime following an argument with an assistant coach. I see why Houston valued getting unprecedented team control over Porter without having to guarantee his salaries.

But the Rockets also paid for the privilege. In our Mock Rookie Extensions podcast, we discussed a deal in the $13 million-$14 million range.

By giving Porter a salary north of $17 million per year, Houston gets more outs to walk away if Porter isn't worth that cost. There's a decent chance these will be difficult guarantee decisions in 2024 and 2025. There's no middle ground. The Rockets will either pay Porter his full salary or let him become a free agent.

Which is why these deals aren't as team-friendly as sometimes portrayed.

Nassir Little

Nassir Little is signing a four-year, $28 million extension with the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

That's shockingly low. In our Mock Rookie Extensions podcast, I offered twice that. And Nate rejected it!

Little is coming off injury and struggled in the preseason, losing the starting-small forward job to Josh Hart. But Little is just 22, showed improvement before getting hurt last season and profiles physically/athletically as the type of wing who's always in high demand.

I wonder whether Little's health issues remain a major issue.

Jordan Poole

The Warriors signed Jordan Poole to a four-year extension worth $123 million-$140 million.

Nate and Danny covered the deal in much greater depth on the podcast. The updated cap sheets include this extension and Golden State's potentially exorbitant luxury-tax bill in 2024. 

Andrew Wiggins

Nate and Danny also extensively discussed Andrew Wiggins' four-year, $109 million extension with the Warriors. One additional thought:

Count me among the many who – incorrectly – thought Golden State didn't get enough in 2020 for trading D'Angelo Russell for Wiggins, who was considered to have one of the NBA's worst contracts.

But it says something Wiggins – even after making his first All-Star team, even after he stepped up in the NBA Finals, even with the salary cap set to jump under new national TV deals – is taking a significant pay cut onto this extension.

Wiggins is earning $33,616,770 this season, the final year of his max extension with the Timberwolves. On his new extension with the Warriors, he'll earn $27.25 million per year.

He probably took a discount to say in Golden State, where he seems happy. But that still puts his current contract into perspective.

Brandon Clarke

Grizzlies big Brandon Clarke is signing a four-year, $50 million extension plus an additional $2 million in unlikely incentives, per Marks.

This is pretty close to what we negotiated on the Mock Rookie Extensions pod. Our deal was also worth up to $52 million over four years, but rather than include annual incentives, the fourth season wasn't fully guaranteed.

Clarke, who'll turn 27 before beginning this extension, is old for his draft class. But he has nice feel for the game and a high motor, taking advantage of his leaping ability. Not only does Clarke jump high, he's quick off the ground. He grabs lots of offensive rebounds, blocks some shots and even uses his elevation on his floater.

Jordan Poole-Draymond Green

Jordan Poole spoke for the first time since getting punched in the face by Draymond Green.

Poole, who just signed his extension, opened his press conference by trying to preemptively shut down Green questions:

“In regards to the Draymond situation, he apologized and professional. We plan on handling ourselves that way. We’re here to play basketball. And everybody in the locker room and on our team knows what it takes to win a championship, and we’re going to do that on the court. And I mean that’s really all I have to say on the matter. We’re here to win a championship and keep hanging banners. Anything regard to the contract situation, the extension, us winning back-to-back championships, any basketball-related questions – I'm all ears."

He took one question about him and Green once describing each other as brothers:

"If I said it, I meant it. And like I said, we're here to play basketball. And our teammates and the coaching staff and the organization, everybody knows what it takes to win championship. And when we get out there on the court, we've got one common goal for 48 minutes, 48-plus minutes – get the job done, win as many games as we can and try to repeat.

That's not exactly warm toward Green. (Who would expect otherwise after Poole got punched in the face?) But these quotes further the notion Poole is allowing the Warriors to move forward and pursue their basketball goals with minimal interruption.

This wasn't the only possible outcome. After getting punched by Bobby Portis in a Bulls practice in 2017, Nikola Mirotic reportedly told Chicago to trade one or the other.

Whatever bitterness Poole is concealing, if any, he's at least willing to put on a good face publicly. That will help Golden State get past this.

You could even consider a small portion of Poole's $123 million extension as the Warriors paying for Poole to handle the incident this way.

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid clearly had a rift as Simmons forced his way off the 76ers. Despite people in Philadelphia repeatedly insisting the stars got along well, Simmons and Embiid also clearly butted heads over the years of playing together. I'm glad we can now stop pretending otherwise.

Simmons in a Q&A with Nick Friedell of ESPN:

While we're on this topic -- have you talked to Joel [Embiid] yet?
Simmons: I don't talk to Jo. We never really spoke.
You guys had a lot of success when you were there. How would you describe that relationship now?
Simmons: I don't think there was really a relationship there. Like in terms of a friendship? You can try as hard as you want to try to be close to somebody, be their friend, whatever it is, but everyone is different as people, so for me, it's never personal. I don't have any anger or hate towards him. He is who he is and I am who I am. And we've got our personal lives. And work is basketball, so in that moment, my goal is to win and I got to win with Jo. He's a great player, we just didn't get it done.

Russell Westbrook

The Lakers haven't traded Russell Westbrook. That might not remain the case for long.

Los Angeles will soon re-engage teams on Westbrook trades, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who described the pause in negotiations as more about teams preferring to use this time to settle their rosters than the Lakers committing to Westbrook.

Barring unforeseen developments, Los Angeles will run into the same issues in trade talks – Westbrook's high salary and lackluster play making him highly negative value. But it's always possible circumstances change enough to find a deal – especially if the Lakers are actively looking.

Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton

Bucks star Khris Middleton will miss the first few weeks of the regular season due to his wrist injury, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Shooting guard Pat Connaughton will also miss about three weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced.

Expect more Grayson Allen, Wesley Matthews, Jordan Nwora, MarJon Beauchamp and George Hill on the wing.

The Bucks are playing for the playoffs, not the regular season, anyway.

James Bouknight

Hornets guard James Bouknight was charged with driving while impaired after getting arrested early Sunday morning.

According to Kallie Cox of The Charlotte Observer, Bouknight has had several other driving incidents in the last year:

  • Ticketed for speeding and reckless driving for driving 92 in a 50 last Wednesday
  • Ticketed for reckless driving in February
  • Charged with speeding and reckless driving for driving 107 in a 65 in November

At UConn in 2019, Bouknight was accepted into a probation program after police say he smelled of alcohol, crashed a car into a stop sign and fleeing the scene.

Dikembe Mutombo, Nate Robinson

Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Three-time dunk-contest champion Nate Robinson is undergoing treatment for kidney failure. Hopefully, both recover quickly and fully.

-Dan Feldman