Chicago Bulls: Lucid idea of an Otto Porter Jr. trade

Otto Porter Jr., Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Otto Porter Jr., Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

If the Chicago Bulls are to maximize this offseason heading into somewhat of a restart for the rebuild, it could involve shopping some of their key players.

There’s an easy to understand, and brief, case to make for why the Chicago Bulls should at least explore any trade options they could find in the near future for the veteran small forward Otto Porter Jr. As the largest salary on the Bulls cap sheet at the moment, OPJ has not done a whole lot to deserve the more than $28 million he’ll be making next year. He only played in 14 games during the 2019-20 regular season.

The ex-Washington Wizards forward landed with the Bulls at the 2019 trade deadline in a package that saw forwards Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis land in the nation’s capital. That did seem like a great deal for the Bulls at the time, and it still somewhat feels that way. Portis and Parker were not the pieces that would’ve provided for the brightest future with the Bulls rebuild.

Parker and Portis both no longer remain with the Wizards. Portis signed a two-year contract with the New York Knicks in free agency last offseason, and Parker signed with the Atlanta Hawks on a two-year deal. Both of those deals are working out fine in those new landing spots for the two former Bulls forwards.

However, Porter Jr. has yet to remain a steady piece of the Bulls rebuild since landing in the Windy City last year. He’s only played in 29 games in a stretch that could’ve seen him get action in more than 82. That’s just hard for any franchise to deal with given a player that commands the price tag of OPJ.

According to a report from K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, it does not seem like the Bulls want to bring OPJ back to the Windy City after his current contract runs up. Given the price tag he comes along with, along with the spotty injury history, that move would make a lot of sense.

Here’s what that piece from NBC Sports Chicago had to say on the subject.

"Even you sounded like you were trying to talk yourself into this scenario as your question unfolded.Nobody questions Porter’s effectiveness as a two-way player when healthy. But you said it: He has played just 29 games as a Bull. And questions about his hips date back to when he first came out of Georgetown.I don’t know the new management regime well enough to speculate on who they like and who they don’t like. But Porter’s expiring contract if he, as expected, opts in for 2020-21 has to be viewed as the main positive. Given his injury history and that Chandler Hutchison remains on the roster — albeit rehabilitating again following shoulder surgery — I have to believe there are other long-term plans for the wing spot outside of Porter."

In the season that was for the Bulls, OPJ played in 14 games. He averaged 11.9 points per game, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.4 blocks. He shot 44.3 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 70.4 percent from the free-throw line. That amounted to an effective field goal percentage of 52.9 and a 55.0 true shooting percentage.

The advanced metrics are decent enough for OPJ in the 29 total games he’s played in (24 of which he started) a Bulls uniform. He registered a 1.7 box plus/minus rating, .112 win shares per 48 minutes, 1.9 total win shares, 58.5 true shooting percentage, 0.8 value over replacement player rating, and 114 offensive rating/112 defensive rating.

When healthy and in rhythm, OPJ is one of the most valuable players on the 15-man roster for the Bulls. The problem with that is that he was never really both healthy and consistently effective for the Bulls at any point during the 2019-20 regular season.

Even his run late in the 2018-19 season with the Bulls was largely meaningless since the team was well outside of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They threw in the towel under then interim head coach Jim Boylen pretty early on last season.

Wing depth is one of the most glaring needs in the entire rotation. Former Boise State Broncos small forward Chandler Hutchison didn’t stay healthy throughout much of the 2019-20 campaign either. He did play in twice the number of games that OPJ did this season, but that still amounted to less than half of the total games the Bulls played in (65).

Since the Bulls brought in a new-look front office regime, a process that started around two months ago, there could be a few players on the move as soon as this offseason. One of those might be OPJ, if the right return presents itself. Salary matching could be a difficult feat with OPJ in the proposal, but there are teams with worse contracts than his by a mile.

If it allows the Bulls to free up more cap room and put them in a more advantageous spot for the looming illustrious 2021 free agent class, then it is worth exploring all options related to a possible OPJ trade deal. There’s other avenues that the Bulls could explore to replace what he brings to the table on the wing too.

Maybe they could get another small forward in return for him if they explore the trade route.

Next. 3 NBA foes Bulls fans love to hate. dark

The Bulls finished up with a record of 22-43 in the season that was. They will not be part of the NBA’s season restart plan, which is supposed to start on July 31 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Only nine teams from the Eastern Conference (compared to 13 from the West) will be playing in the NBA’s resumption next month.