Why the Chicago Bulls should keep Bobby Portis

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Bobby Portis
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Bobby Portis /

The Chicago Bulls shouldn’t even consider trading Bobby Portis. Portis should be part of the Bulls future plans.

After an altercation in practice that left Nikola Mirotic hospitalized with a concussion and broken bones in his face and teammate Bobby Portis facing an 8 game suspension for the punch that caused that injury, the Bulls have some tough decisions regarding the future of these two players.

It’s never easy for a front office to assess this kind of situation and come up with a good result for all involved. These are two guys that play the same position, compete for minutes, and both feel they should be starting over the other. With all the reports of these two going at it in the past, it’s no wonder a punch ended up being thrown.

Let me start by making myself clear – I am in no way defending what Bobby Portis did and in no way saying that I do not like Niko. But, it’s clear these two won’t be able to co-exist in a competitive environment on the same team, so it’s time to part ways with one of them. And that one is Nikola Mirotic.

I know a lot of people – including PAE’s Willie Lutz – feel that Portis should be the one that gets traded. I get it, he threw the punch. But from the sounds of it, Niko wasn’t completely innocent in the altercation either, so the decision involves a little more than who threw the cheap shot.

Mirotic is a 26-year old PF out of Montenegro. This is his fourth season with the Bulls. Niko can space the floor, and score the ball down low when given the opportunity.

Portis is a 22-year old PF that played college ball at Arkansas. This is his third year with the Bulls. Bobby can also space the floor – albeit not as well as Niko – and is a bruiser down low. He’s a guy that plays with consistent energy and loves to bang for boards.

So why keep Portis? 

For better or worse, he fits the mold of a rebuild.

He grinds, he’s got tenacity, he’s gritty, and he’s four years younger. Sure, Niko is still on the front edge of his prime ages, but in a rebuild, every year counts. By the time the Bulls are relevant again, Niko will be in his thirties.

Another reason why Portis makes more sense? The upside. Maybe Bobby doesn’t pan out in the long run, and that would be okay. It’s far too early to get rid of a guy that’s averaging a double-double per 36 minutes.

The biggest reason why Portis should hang around actually has little to do with himself or Niko, but all to do with 7th overall pick in this year’s draft – Lauri Markkanen.

Lauri has shined in his first few games as a pro. Through his first five games, he is averaging nearly 16 points and 10 rebounds while shooting the 3 ball at an impressive 41.7%.

Markkanen has done enough in his first five games to prove that he should be the consistent starter – not Mirotic or Portis. When Niko comes back, I’m assuming that he will want a starting spot. Why would he not? He’s been here for 3 years, he’s one of the oldest on the team, and he’s proven that he can handle it. But that would stunt Markkanen’s growth.

Next: Nikola Mirotic needs to sue the Bulls and Portis

Lights-Out Lauri should be getting 30+ minutes per game.

This team isn’t trying to scrape out win after win, their primary concern should be letting Lauri work through all the ups and downs that a rookie year can bring. And Lauri should let it fly. He needs to keep the shot attempts up and the Bulls need to keep him in the starting lineup.

I believe Niko can be an important bench piece for a playoff team somewhere, I’m just not sold on him being present for this Bulls rebuild.

Yeah, I’d miss yelling “Three-kola!” every time he casts one from the parking lot – but you win some, you lose some.

It’s time to let Niko spread his wings elsewhere.