The Memphis Grizzlies are signing rookie big man Jontay Porter to a multi-year contract, per a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Jontay Porter, a rookie F/C out of Missouri, has signed a multi-year deal with the Grizzlies, his agent Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tells ESPN. Porter rehabbed two separate knee injuries, but has progressed well and is expected to be ready for training camp next season.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 8, 2020
Porter went undrafted out of Missouri at the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s spent the entirety of this year rehabbing from a re-tear of his right ACL. Porter originally tore his ACL in October of 2018. He then re-tore the same ACL in March of 2019. That re-tear caused him to miss the entirety of the 2018-19 season at Missouri.
After winning SEC co-Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman, Porter initially entered the NBA Draft in 2018, but withdrew to return to Missouri for his sophomore season. Porter was expected to be a first-round pick, with many scouts and analysts having him tabbed as a lottery pick.
Porter tore his ACL during a scrimmage before his sophomore season. He then moved to Denver to rehab alongside his brother, Michael Porter Jr., as the then Nuggets rookie was rehabbing from a back injury suffered while he was at Missouri. It was during one of those rehab sessions that Porter re-tore his ACL. He subsequently decided to go pro, but NBA teams were scared off the prospect of drafting him with the knee injuries.
With the Grizzlies making a surprising playoff push, Porter essentially becomes Memphis’ 2020 first-round pick. The Grizzlies will likely send their first rounder to the Boston Celtics. That pick is protected 1-6, but is increasingly more likely to convey to Boston with each victory by Memphis.
At this point, it’s unclear if the Grizzlies are signing Porter using the Minimum Exception, which would limit the deal to two years in length. Memphis’ other option is to use the prorated remainder of their Bi-Annual Exception. That length of contract is still limited to two seasons, but would give Porter a slight bump in pay.
No matter how the Grizzlies are adding Porter, this is a solid no-risk, upside play for them. They get a look at a talented young player for very little money. If Porter pans out, he could fill the backup big man spot behind talented youngster Jaren Jackson Jr. and veteran Jonas Valanciunas. This is the sort of creative move that smart front offices make when they have limited resources available.