The Chicago Bulls‘ Otto Porter Jr. has been in the news for the wrong reasons over the past week. Still, he remains a key piece of what the Bulls are planning to do during the 2020-21 NBA season–one way or another.
Bulls head coach Billy Donovan recently spoke about OPJ’s potential impact and importance, but there is another side to this that wasn’t discussed.
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Donovan on Porter
The one common positive thing that keeps coming out of every player’s mouth as it pertains to Donovan is his communication. Unlike Jim Boylen, it appears players feel as though Donovan is being straight with them and positive.
That’s why it’s likely Porter had already heard what Donovan said to the media this week directly from his new head coach.
“With the amount of time that he’s missed, certainly him being healthy is the most important thing to our team,” Donovan said this week.
Health is obviously a huge deal for Porter at this point. Since the Bulls acquired him in a trade with the Washington Wizards for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis in February 2019, the 27-year-old has appeared in a total of 29 games.
During that time, he’s been productive averaging 14.8 points and 4.5 rebounds while making 44 percent of his three-point attempts. Donovan is seemingly aware of what Porter can bring when he’s healthy, but availability is the best ability.
I’ve always felt like even before, his time in Washington, he’s smart, he’s got a really good feel of how to play. He can make a shot, he’s a good passer. He’s just a guy that’s not been available very much since he’s been here.
That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement to me.
Porter seems to know he hasn’t laid the best foundation for himself with the new regime, and he spoke about his willingness to be flexible this week.
“I told him that I would play whatever he wanted me to do, play however many minutes,” Porter said. “It’s totally up to him.”
Porter’s Performance is Important for Other Reasons
While it may be ideal for Porter to hit the ground running and to suddenly show remarkable durability and to put up numbers befitting a player who just picked up his player option for $28.4 million for the 2020-21 season.
More than that, I get the feeling Porter’s health and productivity are more important because it keeps his trade value high. The Bulls have likely already decided if Porter is for the journey. If they don’t see him as a long-term piece of the puzzle, the responsibility of Donovan and the front office is to make sure his value remains as high as possible so that the team can make him available to a thirsty contender around the trade deadline.
Ideally, the Bulls would probably love to swap him for a draft asset and they would be willing to take back a matching contract(s) that also expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.
If the Bulls can start Porter early while giving No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams some time to get acclimated, that would be ideal. Hopefully, Williams shows promise and the ability to start the second half of the season with Chandler Hutchinson still in the mix. That would allow the Bulls to flip Porter into a draft asset that helps the restructuring.
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