Chicago Bulls move on without their vocal leader
The video tribute aired by the Chicago Bulls on Saturday seemed a little unfair.
It was a co-tribute for the two new Washington Wizards, Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker.
It didn't fit because Portis might have been the most passionate player on a struggling Bulls team, and he left the United Center in tears after being told the trade news Wednesday. Parker's tenure with the Bulls was, well, not much of anything productive.
During their return to Chicago on Saturday night, Portis walked in wearing a red suit, thanked reporters and told them he doesn't have a single bad thing to say about anyone in the Bulls organization.
"I think everybody knows how much I prided in playing for the Bulls, prided in playing for the city of Chicago," Portis said after the game. "I think that's known by everybody in the Bulls organization. Obviously, I got my first taste of the business side of basketball. You don't really get your way all the time."
Parker continued his familiar storyline about how he did everything asked of him. But then everyone in the building could see Parker played harder against the Bulls on Saturday than he ever did for them. He scored 20 points and threw down 6 dunks in Washington's 134-125 victory.
"He's a good fit for us," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "It's something that we need. We need bench scoring. We need a guy like that, and we found him."
If you polled NBA observers back in July, the majority probably would have predicted the Bulls' Parker experiment would fail. If Parker had played the way he did Saturday, things probably could have worked with the Bulls.
Should they have been a little more patient as he worked his way back into shape after a second ACL surgery? Maybe, but Parker didn't help his cause by acting like an entitled veteran who couldn't be bothered to put any effort into defense when he first arrived.
There's no point in analyzing Parker's unhappy homecoming. The Bulls swung and missed, but Parker does seem to have a future in the NBA, maybe in Washington.
A better question coming out of the trade is how much the Bulls will miss Portis' passion. Several Bulls credited him with being the team's vocal leader, the guy who got them fired up in the locker room and energized them during games.
Obviously, the Bulls are 13-43, so Portis is not irreplaceable. New addition Otto Porter Jr. should be a good fit at small forward. He has a quiet personality, so he's not likely to become the new vocal leader.
Porter does have playoff experience, though, something possessed by no other key piece in the Bulls' rebuild.
That pretty much sums up what's in store for the Bulls. They'll settle for losing games the rest of this season -- they'll carry a franchise-record 10-game home losing streak into Monday's date with the Bucks -- hope for a high draft pick and then set out to improve the supporting cast this summer.
Another disappointment of this season is not finding some guys who could stick around and fill supporting roles.
Cameron Payne didn't last. Ryan Arcidiacono has faded after a nice start. Antonio Blakeney has not been a keeper, and Shaq Harrison is a frustrating mix of athletic potential and poor decisions. The Cristiano Felicio revival hasn't happened.
Wayne Selden Jr., who scored 17 points against the Wizards, is showing positive signs. But the bench for next season appears to be another total rebuild.
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