Where are the members of the GarPax-era Bulls now?

Kris Dunn, Jim Boylen, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Kris Dunn, Jim Boylen, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls, GarPax
Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

This group of players began to thrive after being released from the grip of a GarPax-led front office.

Zach LaVine

Although the 2018-19 season was just four seasons ago, Zach LaVine is the lone remnant of the true GarPax-era still on the Bulls today. He’s also the only player from those teams that played well enough to stick around, and play well he most certainly did. LaVine has averaged 24.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists on excellent shooting splits in his five years in Chicago, earning every penny of his record-breaking $215 million extension along the way.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to have kept LaVine around given his performance, GarPax does deserve some small credit among their heap of failures for keeping him around in the first place. When Sacramento offered LaVine a $78 million deal in restricted free agency, the consensus opinion was one of that being a massive overpay. GarPax ended up doubling down and matched the offer sheet in what would end up becoming one of the highest-value contracts in the NBA.

Bobby Portis

Bobby Portis is a prime example of a great player the previous regime let slip through their fingers, as the Bulls traded him away for a lackluster package involving the oft-injured Otto Porter Jr. Portis played very well for Chicago while on his rookie contract, but the front office was not interested in inking the big man to a long-term extension. Instead, he earned a big role with Milwaukee where he’d make his home and become a beloved fan favorite en route to winning an NBA championship in 2021.

Wendell Carter Jr.

Similar to the aforementioned Portis, the Chicago Bulls traded Wendell Carter in an attempt to avoid paying him a hefty extension. Although the new front office pulled the trigger on this trade, the roster construction GarPax put around Wendell is largely to blame for why his trade value was so low in the first place.

Carter Jr. had a career year in Orlando last season and ended up signing a very team-friendly deal, leaving the Bulls wondering what could have been had GarPax put the right pieces around Wendell in the first place.

Otto Porter Jr.

I may not have been the biggest advocate for the Otto Porter Jr. trade at the time, largely because I felt the Bulls were missing out on something special in Portis, but it did have its merits on paper. As the former No. 3 overall pick in 2013, Porter Jr. showed glimpses of extreme potential, but could never manage to stay on the court long enough to make a huge impact for the Bulls. After joining Golden State, however, the Warriors effectively load-managed OPJ in a bench role and he (like Portis) ended up playing a big part in their 2022 NBA championship run.

Cameron Payne

By the time Cameron Payne had reached the end of his time in a Bulls uniform, many fans were quite confident in their beliefs that he was in fact one of the worst players to ever suit up for this historic franchise. As much as I wish it were, that is no exaggeration. I imagine much of this animosity stems from the fact Payne was the prize of a trade that sent the beloved Taj Gibson to OKC.

Still, Payne beat all the odds and has become an integral part of the Phoenix Suns ever since, even helping the team make an NBA Finals appearance and going toe-to-toe with LeBron James himself.

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