Bulls trade Portis, Parker to Wizards for Porter
This much is painfully obvious: The Chicago Bulls' rebuild needs some help.
Whether the trade they made Wednesday night is the right time or the right addition remains to be seen. The Bulls sent Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker to Washington for forward Otto Porter Jr.
Meanwhile, after learning of the trade less than an hour before tipoff, the Bulls tied a franchise record by losing their ninth straight home game. They fell to a short-handed New Orleans squad 125-120 thanks to 31 points from forward Julius Randle.
"Yeah, it just stinks because I looked on the phone, I found out pretty early," Zach LaVine said in the locker room. "I could tell Bobby was a little weird about it. It learned early in the NBA, some of my best friends got traded."
The trade won't be official until Thursday, so coach Jim Boylen refused to talk about it. Portis and Parker left the building before the game began and later on teammates were willing to pass along some tributes.
"Bobby's pretty much the main glue of the team, the big-time voice," LaVine said. "It stinks, he's one of my best friends on the team. Me and Jabari talk all the time. It stinks he didn't get the way he wanted to come here, Chicago kid. I don't think he got the fair end of the stick on that one.
"It's the NBA, man. Those two are great players. They're going to be very successful."
Robin Lopez, another candidate to be traded, played 30 minutes against the Pelicans and said he plans on falling asleep during the flight to Brooklyn on Thursday, not worrying about the 2 p.m. trade deadline.
"I love playing with Bobby," Lopez said. "He's a supreme competitor and I really appreciate that about him, playing with him during practice and in games. He's a big sparkplug for us. You love having him out there, not because of the offense or defense he generates, but just the energy he generates."
Sending away Portis and Parker isn't a shock. Portis will be a restricted free agent this summer, and the Bulls aren't ready to offer him a large contract. The Parker experiment failed months ago.
But Porter, 25, comes at a very high price. He has two more years left on his contract worth $27.2 million and $28.5 million. And he's averaging just 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, while shooting 36.9 percent from 3-point range.
Porter has some upside, since he improved during his first five years in the league before taking a dive this season. Last year he was at 14.7 points and shot 44.1 percent from 3-point range.
"I know he's a really good 3 and D player," LaVine said. "Didn't he lead the NBA in 3-point percentage last year? Another dude to come in here and try to help this thing get back to where it's supposed to be. We'll welcome him with open arms."
Witnesses described Portis as emotional as he walked through the tunnel toward the players' parking lot. Parker was calm and stopped to speak with reporters.
"It's the business. It's just surprising to me because Bobby was quote-unquote the leader and captain of our team," Parker said. "Just a guy that they love, and for him to get moved is obviously bitter, but, hey, that's just how it goes."
Parker said both he and Portis were in the locker room getting ready for the game. Asked if they expected to play tonight, Parker showed a sense of humor.
"Yeah, I mean, him more than me," Parker said. "That's why I was so shocked because of him, because he plays big minutes for our team. And I was just feeling sorry for his situation. I knew what to expect, but not like him."
Lauri Markkanen scored 30 points to lead the Bulls on Wednesday, while LaVine added 28 and Kris Dunn contributed 18 points and 8 assists. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 9 points in his Bulls debut.
The rebuild rolls along.
"I'm just here trying to help out and win games," LaVine added. "I'm trying to do the best I can and I'm doing what I can to keep this thing moving."
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls