Bulls

Bulls, Bobby Portis value each other greatly despite no deal getting done

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USA TODAY

Bulls, Bobby Portis value each other greatly despite no deal getting done

Monday's deadline came and went with expected results: Bobby Portis and the Bulls being unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.

Some 19 hours later all parties involved said the right things, that they value one another and hope to be working together long-term.

But all that will be shelved until July 1, when Portis enters restricted free agency at this coming season's end. The two sides found themselves in position to wait out on an extension.

For Portis, he's improved his game each of his first three seasons in the league posted per-36 numbers on par with some of the game's best big men. Expected to start while Lauri Markkanen recovers from a sprained elbow - and then act as the team's Sixth Man after that - Portis is in line to post career numbers once again.

For the Bulls, nearly all their front office decisions the past three seasons have been with an eye toward the 2019 offseason and having as much cap space as possible. Waiting on a Portis contract allows them to see if any of the top free agents in the class are interested in Chicago, while also having the ability to match any deal Portis gets on the open market.

It's similar to how the Bulls played out the rookie scale contracts of both Jimmy Butler and Zach LaVine.

John Paxson spoke during Tuesday's practice at the Advocate Center and reiterated how much the Bulls value Portis and the work he's put in since they drafted him 22nd overall in 2015.

Portis also spoke with reporters after practice. And what would normally be considered posturing from any other player, Portis' blue-collar mentality was present in his comments.

"I couldn’t see myself in no other jersey. Obviously, I got Bulls DNA," he said. "Me and the city have a love connection somewhere. At the same time, I just enjoy playing for the Bulls.

"I play this game because I love it. Obviously, you want to make as much money as possible to help your family. But I started playing basketball because it’s fun to me and I loved it. I still have that same passion, that same heart every night I go out there."

Still, the opportunity will be there for Portis to make himself significant money in the coming six months. After averaging a modest 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in Year 3, Portis will be called upon to shoulder a scoring load in the absence of Markkanen. And with Jabari Parker's Bulls career off to a shaky start, Portis will be the go-to guy on the second unit once Markkanen is back in the lineup.

"Bobby is a guy that is very confident in himself. He’s confident in his ability. That’s what we love about him," Fred Hoiberg said. "And like I said, he’s going to go out there and play the same way every time he steps on the floor, whether it’s practice, whether it’s a pick-up game in the summer or once we get started on Thursday. He’s a warrior, and he’s just going to go out there and play the right way with great effort.’’

The Bulls will need that with the start of the regular season just two days away. They open on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that went 30-11 at home last season.

Portis will play a significant role in slowing down one of the NBA's best frontcourts. Whether or not this is his last season doing so in Chicago, he knows what the Bulls think of him and won't let the impending negotiations distract him.

"I know how much I’m valued. They tell me a lot. Give it all I got. Kind of the leader of the bunch. Blue-collar worker," he said. "Everybody respects me because I come in every day with a chip on my shoulder, try to push my guys to get better each day. That makes me go."

Someone dropped a WHOLE bunch of money on a Michael Jordan basketball card

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@chicagotribune

Someone dropped a WHOLE bunch of money on a Michael Jordan basketball card

Someone had some cash burning a hole in their pocket. 

On Thursday afternoon, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about how someone spent THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS on a Michael Jordan basketball card. The card is, according to the piece, one of only 10 ever made. Of those 10 cards, only 3 -- including this one -- have been graded by the Professional Sports Authenticator service.

The card is apparently the most expensive MJ card yet, and the third most-expensive basketball card ever. What's even funnier is that the card was about to sell for $100,000, but a bidding flurry in the auction's final couple minutes raised the price almost 200%. 

That is a staggering amount of money to spend on a laminated, wallet-sized picture of a basketball player, but if that's what you want to drop hundreds of thousands of your dollars on, far be it from me to say otherwise. 

Otto Porter showing off a versatile skill set with Bulls: 'It's been exciting'

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USA TODAY

Otto Porter showing off a versatile skill set with Bulls: 'It's been exciting'

Sample size is important to remember in any numbers piece, especially when analyzing the addition of a player to a 12-win team and bottomed out expectations. Otto Porter was going to make the Bulls a better basketball team. On top of adding a more talented player to the core than what they sent back, Porter also filled an immediate and desperate need as a floor spacer on the wing with the true ability to guard multiple positions in multiple roles.

Still, it’s hard not to look at Porter’s four-game sample size and be excited about what the Bulls may have added to their core – and what they may have unlocked by putting him in a more prominent role than he had in Washington.

Porter is receiving 6 more frontcourt touches per game in Chicago than he did in Washington (29.3 vs. 23.1), and his dribbles per touch are up from 1.05 in Washington to 1.81 in Chicago. That may not seem significant but it’s clear Porter has been on the move more than he was as a spot-up shooter with the Wizards (something he did very well).

Case in point: Porter is averaging 5.3 drives per game in four games with the Bulls, more than double the 2.6 drives he averaged in Washington.

“His drive game is very interesting to me because he has such positional size that he can shoot over, even maybe when he’s closely guarded, he can score over the top of the defense,” Jim Boylen said Thursday after practice. “And then he has a real good feel of passing to the pocket, so I think what’s interesting for me with him is there’s a part of me that wants him off the ball cause he’s a great receiver, and there’s part of us that want him with the ball on the ball because he’s a pretty damn good creator with positional size.”

Porter will never be asked to carry the load for the Bulls because of guys like LaVine and Markkanen, but even in the early going it’s clear Boylen and the coaching staff is giving him a little more freedom within the offense.

Porter has been one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA over the last three seasons – 42.6 percent on 4.2 attempts per game – but there appears to be more to his game. Again, it’s just four games but the Bulls are beginning to open up more for him and he’s answering with some eye-opening numbers.

In 40 games with the Wizards he had 24 post-up possessions. In just four games with the Bulls he’s tallied six post-up possessions. Again, it’s nothing earth-shattering, and the Bulls haven’t suddenly found the second coming of Shaq on the low block, but he’s played 40 percent of his minutes at power forward and center in small-ball lineups and is being used as a mismatch perhaps more than he was in Washington.

“You don’t realize how big he was until you get on top of him. His positional size is off the charts. I didn’t know how easily he would be able to gravitate to the four like he has. I know he played some for [the Wizards], but that’s not an easy process and he’s done that really well. So that’s been, I don’t want to say surprising, but it’s been exciting.”

The word “versatility” in today’s NBA has become as cliché as “wingspan” has to analyze draft prospects. But it’s true with Porter, and it’s especially true on a Bulls team that was running out Bobby Portis at center, Chandler Hutchison at power forward and Shaq Harrison at small forward out of necessity rather than true fit.

Plus, this is only the beginning. Boylen said the Bulls have really tried to simplify the offense since Porter arrived, and the All-Star break and subsequent practices coming out of it have helped the 6-foot-8 wing with terminology, sets and chemistry. He won’t continue shooting .621/.579/.778 but the potential is there for Porter to really open up and become an all-around talent, adding to his already stellar defensive traits.

“Practice is where you can get acquainted with everybody, coaching staff, still learning names, but it’s always good to get a couple practices in with the team,” Porter said on Thursday. “Right now I’m just learning our defensive schemes, where coaches want us to be defensively. And offensively just getting accustomed to all the name calls.”

It’s still been just four games, so take it all with a grain of salt, and Porter is still playing in his Wizards colorway shoes. Lucky for him, those colors blend right in with the Bulls uniforms, and lucky for the Bulls their newest addition to the rebuild is blending in seamlessly with the rest of the core.