This trade was a bit of a surprise. The Washington Wizards had announced in mid-November that their entire squad was up for trade. They were very interested in trading John Wall away. However, due to his contract and his recent season-ending injury, they were unable to deal him away.
They did end up dealing away Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre as well, but it wasn’t expected that they would give up Porter. Sure, they really need the cap relief. But it didn’t seem like there was a viable offer that front office head Ernie Grunfeld would accept.
Ironically enough, the Bulls acquiring him for Portis, Parker and a pick made Jon Paxson look like a genius. Parker has been one of the worst free agent signings of this past decade. Giving him $20 million to just sit on the bench, refusing to play defense, and to cramp the team’s offense was just hilariously bad. Parker simply wasn’t a fit.
For Portis, he was an effective backup big man for the Bulls. But he needed to play on a team where he could gain consistent playing time. He was likely to leave in free agency the upcoming season. The Bulls needed to use his worth while he was still their asset.
Otto Porter fits the Chicago Bulls rebuild to a T. Many fans and analysts were surprised when the Bulls acquired Porter. He will make 27 million and 28 million the next two seasons for the Bulls. The Bulls had an ample amount of cap space this upcoming season, but acquiring his contract completely closes any space they might’ve had.
The Bulls wouldn’t have brought in any free agents this offseason anyways. They’re still in rebuild mode, and they would’ve had no reason to bring on a long-term contract. Porter allows them to remain flexible while also filling in a hole they had in their roster.
The Bulls haven’t had a viable swingman since Jimmy Butler over three years ago. Something that many thought they would address this past draft. Somebody who can play great defense and hit well from beyond the arc. This era of the NBA demands that teams have versatile wing players.
Porter fits this role perfectly. Scott Brooks and the Washington Wizards never employed Porter correctly. He was in an offensive system that didn’t utilize his ability to the maximum. Beal and Wall took up most of the usage on offense and needed the ball in their hands to succeed. Porter went to the wayside. He began to accept his role as an off-ball shooter. He didn’t have many plays designed for him to get to the basket.
Porter this past season for the Wizards averaged 29 minutes per game along with 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. He was efficient, but his usage was extremely low. It was only at 18.3 percent. Per Cleaning the Glass, that usage rated in the 50th percentile among wing players. For somebody who is so efficient, it’s mind-boggling that Porter didn’t get the touches he deserved in Wahington.
His offensive game is pretty diverse. He’s a very good post player. He can come out of screens, set screens, and is fabulous at cutting off-ball. He’s so efficient at scoring without the ball, that when he finally had the chance to score with it, he thrived. He no longer had to default to ball-dominant guards. He could finally blossom.
His last game with the Bulls against the Memphis Grizzlies he scored 37 points on 16/20 shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds as well. He has shown that he already fits well in their offense. It’s just not a hot start. He’s shown he can be the missing piece in their offense.
This clip right here shows how deadly Porter can be. You can see here he sets an off-ball screen for Porter. He wraps around after Lauri Markkanen cuts to the basket, hitting an easy jumper.
His ability to sit on the perimeter and hit shots from deep is vital for an efficient NBA offense. Porter take a Markkanen pass and hits from the wing with ease.
His athleticism to run the break is also one of his skills. Not only is he an excellent shooter, but he finishes at the rim with the best of them.
Porter fits into the Bulls roster like a missing puzzle piece. A lineup featuring Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr has potential to be a future playoff roster. With whomever, the team drafts in the lottery this upcoming offseason, as well as an acquisition of a starting point guard, the Bulls have built something special.
All the haters who see Porter as an overpriced 13 points per game scorer are missing the forest for the trees. Porter is exactly what the Bulls need. They won’t need another player who demands the ball. They don’t need to chase after a big-time free agent. A rebuild is a process. One that is imperfect, especially when an unproven front office is at the helm.
Porter is a step in the right direction. Sure, he doesn’t symbolize a full on tank. Nor does this roster have the talent level to win a championship. Some may even say that this move puts them back into mediocrity. However, a young core of good players isn’t mediocre. It’s promising, especially since they aren’t tied to millions of dollars in cap space.
In a vacuum, this Porter trade is exactly what Bulls fans should be excited about. Regardless of what happens in the future, this is a good trade. Porter is a good player, with two years of team control, and is an asset that is coveted across the league. He could even be a bargaining chip down the line for a better player in a trade.
A year and a half ago, I wrote an article on Porter. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks had the chance to use Porter more within the offense. John Wall had been hurt for most of the year, and the team needed his offense. It never happened.
The piece had a simple yet concise headline. “Let Otto Porter Free.” It has a ring to it, doesn’t it?
And now, he is.