Bulls see Porter Jr. as a good fit for lineup

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Bulls are ready to welcome new acquisition Otto Porter Jr. to the rebuild. He was at the Advocate Center Thursday, but didn't practice and it's not clear if he'll play Friday in Brooklyn.

    The Bulls are ready to welcome new acquisition Otto Porter Jr. to the rebuild. He was at the Advocate Center Thursday, but didn't practice and it's not clear if he'll play Friday in Brooklyn. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 2/7/2019 6:09 PM

There are a couple different ways to look at the Bulls' acquisition of Otto Porter Jr.

He does fit well into the lineup. He's an athletic, 6-8 small forward who has shot well from 3-point range and is a better defender than Zach LaVine. At 25, with six years of NBA experience, he becomes the veteran player of the Bulls' young core.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On the other hand, he's got a terrible contract, owed $27.3 million and $28.5 million over the next two seasons. He's taken a step down this season, averaging 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting just 36.9 percent from 3-point range.

The Bulls are obviously hoping he can return to his past track record of steady improvement. During the 2017-18 season. Porter averaged 14.7 points and shot 44.1 percent from 3-point range, which was among the best in the NBA.

"To me, Otto Porter is what the league is," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said Thursday. "Six-foot-6 to 6-8, multi-position defender, can 3 and D, has got playoff experience. I think I read where he had 33 games of playoff experience (actually 31), which is exciting to me. So yeah, he fits."

Porter is a St. Louis native, drafted with the No. 3 overall pick out of Georgetown in 2013. He saw no playing time in the 2014 playoff series against the Bulls at the end of his rookie season.

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LaVine remembers matching up against Porter several times on the court, but they'll be getting to know each other in the coming weeks.

"I saw him this morning. He was excited," LaVine said. "This is his first time being traded. I was like, 'It's a weird feeling, man.' I remember when I got traded, not a lot of people talk to you and you don't know what to expect.

"I just go, 'Hey, if you need anything, I'm here.' But we'll get this thing going. I'm excited to have him on the team."

The rationale given by the Bulls management team of John Paxson and Gar Forman in trading Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker is Porter fits a position of need and can be a long-term starter. Portis played the same position as two guys playing ahead of him, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. The Bulls did offer Portis an extension last fall and he turned it down, preferring to enter restricted free agency this summer.

"If you're taking about asset allocation, if you're taking about roster fit, I think the Portis situation makes complete sense," Boylen said. "It doesn't make it easier. It doesn't mean that he's not a very good player."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Robin Lopez also offered a description of his new teammate before the Bulls flew to Brooklyn Thursday.

"He's a great player, a smart player," Lopez said. "That's something you really appreciate. You know those guys who are savvy. They always seem to be in the right spot on the court."

Boylen said he had "no idea" if Porter will play against Brooklyn. LaVine skipped Thursday's practice to rest a sore ankle, but Boylen said he thinks LaVine will play.

"We'll see how it goes," LaVine said of the Porter for Portis swap. "We haven't got to practice yet. I'm excited. He's a professional scorer. I think he's going to come in here and prove his worth."

Lopez saved his best trade analysis for former Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic, who was sent from New Orleans to Milwaukee, where he'll play next to Robin's twin brother Brook.

"I feel bad for Niko. He has to play with Brookie," Robin said. "You know what's even worse about it. He already got the superior experience of playing with me. And now he has to go and play with Brook. It's like living in Fresno and having to move to Clovis. I'm sure everybody understood that."

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