Is a trade a wise move for the Chicago Bulls this offseason if it involved sending off Otto Porter Jr. for Tobias Harris from the Philadelphia 76ers?
Hitting the trade block could be a good route for the Chicago Bulls to take to move the cap sheet into a more favorable situation this offseason. Trades are always a volatile way to re-configure a cap sheet, though, for any team that is in the midst of a difficult rebuild like that of the Bulls. At least ownership made the necessary changes back in spring to get the front office put in a more advantageous spot entering the fourth year of the rebuild.
The Bulls hired away former Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to replace John Paxson as the lead voice in the front office. And Karnisovas then hired former Philadelphia 76ers senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley to replace Gar Forman as the next general manager. The official title for Karnisovas will be executive VP of basketball operations.
Where could Karnisovas and Eversley look to find the answer to get this rebuild going in the right direction?
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report had a different take on the route that the Bulls new front office personnel could go with in a possible trade package this offseason. He pitched the idea of the Bulls trading the Sixers for veteran forward Tobias Harris.
What the Chicago Bulls receive in this Tobias Harris trade
This particular trade package has the Sixers sending their 2020 second round draft pick, 2022 unprotected first round draft pick, and Harris to the Bulls for a return of veteran small forward Otto Porter Jr. The money that Harris and OPJ are both owed is pretty large.
But the contract that Harris is currently on would be much more of a cap sheet anchor to the Bulls than keeping OPJ around for just the next two years (assuming he opts into his player option, which is the anticipated move). Harris is just one year into the five-year contract worth $180 million that he signed last offseason.
Meanwhile, OPJ is due just north of $28 million per year in base salary for the remainder of his current contract. The money Harris is due would be worse for the Bulls than paying out OPJ.
But would it be worth it for the Bulls to stack future draft capital, including an unprotected future first round pick, to get Harris in the mix?
Here’s what this Bleacher Report piece had to say on the reasoning for the trade from the Bulls side.
New management and a new head coach won’t change the fact that the Chicago Bulls are still a ways off from contention. So this is the kind of deal a team in that situation should be looking to swing: bad money and picks for expiring deals.
Yes, Tobias Harris’ contract is beyond cumbersome. He’s due $147 million over the next four seasons. But if the Bulls aren’t serious playoff threats in, say, the first two of those, maybe the exorbitant cost doesn’t matter quite as much. The 2022 pick coming from the Sixers has massive upside, as the looming possibility of a Joel Embiid-Ben Simmons breakup could result in a far less competitive Philly outfit in two years.
Chicago could insist on Mattise Thybulle’s involvement, but the 76ers are already surrendering a ton to get off Harris’ deal.
Harris was solid for the Sixers during the 2019-20 regular season, but his play waned in the playoffs. The Sixers were dominated in the first round of the playoffs, in a sweep at the hands of the three seed Boston Celtics.
But during the regular season, Harris averaged 19.6 points per game, 6.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks. He shot 47.1 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 80.6 percent from the free-throw line. But in the four playoff games he played in with the Sixers this year, he averaged 15.8 points per game, 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.3 blocks.
In those four playoff games, Harris shot a rather mediocre 38.3 percent from the field, a miserable 13.3 percent from beyond the arc, and 78.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, OPJ averaged 11.9 points per game, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.4 blocks, in just 14 games played during the 2019-20 regular season. He shot 44.3 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 70.4 percent from the free-throw line.