University of Missouri

Why former Mizzou star Jontay Porter might remain unsigned by NBA teams for a while

Missouri’s Jontay Porter wasn’t selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft and as of Friday afternoon had yet to sign with a team.

Porter was a projected mid-second round pick despite tearing his right ACL twice since October. The 6-foot-10 forward is unable to return to college despite MU coach Cuonzo Martin entertaining the possibility on a conference call with reporters on Friday morning. Martin said he hadn’t connected with Porter or his family since the draft.

The Rice Commission, led by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, suggested that undrafted underclassmen be able to return to school, a proposal that was passed by the NCAA. But the NBA and its players association needs to amend its collective bargaining agreement in order for the rule to take effect.

Porter isn’t expected to be cleared to play until late 2019 or early 2020 and could remain unsigned while teams monitor his rehab. NBA free agency doesn’t start until early July and a Porter signing would count against the salary cap even if he can’t be on the court for a year.

A team could monitor Porter’s rehab for a year and not sign him until sometime in 2020, when he’s able to play. Even if a team does sign Porter, he might play strictly in the G-League next season as opposed to the NBA, while he kicks off almost two years of rust.

Most second-round picks try to get a guaranteed contract or a two-way deal, in which the prospect splits time between the NBA and the G-League. Teams only get a pair of two-way contracts and using one on Porter wouldn’t make sense if he can’t play.

Aside from his two knee injuries, teams also seemed worrisome of his family injury history, which includes older brother Michael Porter Jr. and his back problems. Porter Jr. is expected to make his professional debut on July 5 in the NBA Summer League for the Denver Nuggets. A strong performance by the older Porter could encourage more teams about Jontay Porter’s prospects.

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.