The Bulls swung a trade deadline deal to land a dynamic shooting threat.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 7, 2019
Chicago added Otto Porter Jr. from the Wizards for Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and a 2023 second-round pick. The Bulls were unlikely to pick up Parker’s $20 million team option after his lackluster play and odd fit on the roster. Head Coach Jim Boylen told reporters Tuesday Parker didn’t work out for the team due to his inability to play the small forward position and injured players returning.
“There was some thought he could play the 3, that didn’t work out,” Boylen said. “So now we’ve got Markkanen and Portis at 4, those guys come back healthy … so there’s not a whole bunch of minutes there.”
Portis did not reach an agreement with the team on a contract extension before the season and the Bulls probably didn’t want to meet a potentially higher asking price after his strong play this season. Even though President of Basketball Operations John Paxson said he wanted Portis back at the beginning of the season, the Bulls made the call to trade him.
John Paxson discussed Bobby Portis’ contract situation. “We love Bobby,” Paxson said. “He plays hard, represents tough-minded approach we like.” Paxson also said Portis will be a “high priority” this summer when he enters restricted free agency.
— Chinmay Vaidya (@Chinmay_Vaidya) October 16, 2018
Both Portis and Parker were informed of the trade minutes before the Bulls tipped off against the Pelicans. Both left the arena after hearing the news. Parker was relieved after his struggles in Chicago this season, but Portis appeared surprised by the news.
The Wizards will get significant tax savings after sending Porter Jr.’s contract out, which had two more years and over $55 million left. The forward also has a 15% trade kicker, meaning his salary will increase due to the transaction. Washington will save about $3.5 million on the trade this season before having a chance to get below the luxury tax line in the offseason. The Wizards will desperately want to avoid the repeater tax on a team that has struggled and will be without its point guard for most of next season.
Porter Jr. is averaging 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season and shooting 36.9 percent from behind the arc. His efficiency from deep has diminished from last season, but he would give the Bulls a perimeter shooting threat they desperately need. Chicago is tied for 14th in 3-point percentage and tied for last in made 3-pointers per game.
The Bulls will eat into their cap space with this deal, but it didn’t look like free agents viewed Chicago as an attractive destination. Anthony Davis, who’s looking to get out of New Orleans, openly said he didn’t want to play in his hometown. The Bulls acquired a player with upside for salary they were unlikely to use anyway. Boylen didn’t comment on the trade after the game, saying he had been told to hold off on speaking about it until Thursday.
Chicago will hope Porter Jr. can fit seamlessly next to Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. in the following seasons. Washington got some much-needed salary relief.