After working with special needs students at a basketball clinic at the Verizon Center in northwest D.C. on Wednesday, Otto Porter Jr. gave his first public comments since he decided last week to remain with the Washington Wizards.
Porter, 24, who played at Georgetown University in the District for two years, said he was excited to remain in his adopted home. The third overall pick in the 2013 draft agreed to a max offer of four years and $106.5 million.
“This is my hometown. This is where I grew up outside [from] Missouri,” he said. “Being back with the guys, keeping that chemistry [and] keeping that small core, we can only go up from here.”
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, who sat beside Porter during a nearly 15-minute press conference, said continuity works better than spending money on unknown commodities.
“I would rather give players that we know that we think have upside long-term, big deals than roll the dice,” Leonsis said. “The organization knows Otto and we know he’s at his best when … he’s himself.”
Leonsis said one goal would be for the team would be to achieve a 50-win season, especially with the core of Porter, shooting guard Bradley Beal, 24, and All-Star point guard John Wall, 26.
With Porter and Beal inked to long-term deals, Wall has one more year left on his contract.
“We’re going to keep Otto Porter. We’re going to keep Bradley Beal. We’re going to keep John Wall,” Leonsis said. “We feel really good about keeping this core together. I like the way we’re positioned [with] the players and the chemistry that we have.”
As for Porter, he averaged a career-high 13 points per game and ranked fifth in the NBA (second in the Eastern Conference) in three-point shooting at 43 percent. His offensive efficiency ranked second in the league behind DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers.
With him on the floor, the Wizards ranked first in the league in forcing turnovers.
The 6-8 small forward said he still has room for improvement, such as defending bigger players, his mid-range jumper and “keeping my ball-handling tight.”
Although Porter signed a major contract, Wizards personnel and his head coach Scott Brooks just wants him to just continue his work ethic and remain a team-oriented player.
“He defends. He rebounds. He passes and is one of the best shooters in the league,” Brooks said. “He’s only going to get better. I’m glad that we have him long term because he’s going to be a big part of our success going forward.”
Before Porter faced the media, he conducted a basketball clinic for dozens of special needs students from McKinley Middle School-ESY in northeast D.C. and those with Dreams for Kids DC.
Some of the children such as Desmond Burton took free throw shots, dribbled, passed and took pictures with Porter. Burton, who turns 13 on Friday, also received a white Porter T-shirt and an autographed photo.
“I think I lived all of it,” Desmond said with a smile.
“I watched him work with the kids. He was awesome with them. He really connected with these kids, especially my son,” said Desmond’s mother, Tracy Burton who recently moved from northeast D.C. to District Heights, Maryland. “This is a nice way to start celebrating [Desmond’s birthday].”