With the Houston Rockets clearly prioritizing salary cap space in 2023, any Kevin Porter Jr. contract extension needs to be a team-friendly deal, as reported Friday by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
Porter, who turned 22 years old earlier 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.
While a recent report suggested that both Porter and the Rockets have mutual interest in an extension, Scotto reports that Houston’s interest in such a scenario is dependent on the finances. His report:
Kevin Porter Jr. has been a topic of discussion lately regarding a possible extension. In any extension scenario for Porter Jr., it would likely have to be a team-friendly deal, league sources told HoopsHype. Houston is prioritizing cap space for next summer. Considering Porter Jr.’s potential starter criteria qualifying offer would be around $8.5 million, it’s unlikely the Rockets would want to offer significantly more than that when they can go into restricted free agency with him next summer.
For the Rockets and general manager Rafael Stone, the critical number to watch is $9.7 million. That’s 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 would have Bird rights on Porter, they could exceed the cap to do so, and Porter’s restricted status would allow the team to match any outside offer to retain him.
If Porter is open to doing an extension in which the starting salary is at least comparable to that cap-hold figure, it could make sense for the Rockets to get a deal done early. There wouldn’t be much downside, since Porter’s cap hold at $9.7 million would likely be on the books, even if the team did nothing on the extension front. Porter has already shown enough promise as a player to where it is hard to envision a scenario where the Rockets would want to let him leave the team in 2023 for no compensation.
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 higher price point. For Stone, it could be an opportunity to “buy low,” especially if Porter will 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 perfectly understandable if he doesn’t want to pass up his first opportunity to land a guaranteed, long-term contract of significance.
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 the $9.7 million cap hold, there’s not much downside to getting a deal done early and eliminating any potential risk of Porter playing his way into a much larger contract with a strong season.
On the other hand, if Porter wants a much higher first-year number, it probably makes sense for the Rockets to wait. Houston could give him the same contract a year from now, but with far less stress on its financial flexibility, thanks to the lower cap hold. That cap hold is much lower than it is for most first-round picks, since salaries are slotted to draft slots, and Porter was selected at No. 30 in 2019.
A 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.
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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire