The Bulls made a major splash on Wednesday in acquiring small forward Otto Porter, but in the process they lost an emotional leader in Bobby Portis that his old teammates said will be hard to replace.
Portis declined to speak with reporters prior to leaving the United Center, a warranted reaction considering he found about the deal roughly 30-45 minutes before tipoff.
But his former teammates did plenty of talking about what kind of leader Portis was in the locker room and on the floor.
Zach LaVine is no stranger to teammates being dealt, and he said that his rookie season in Minnesota saw 25 different players rotate through the locker room.
"Bobby’s pretty much the main glue of the team, a big-time voice," he said after the team's 125-120 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. "It sucks. He’s one of my best friends on the team."
Portis is only 23 and in his fourth NBA season but had taken on a distinct leadership role with the Bulls. An emotional force dubbed "Crazy Eyes" early on in his career, Portis' impact was felt each time he stepped on the floor.
"He’s a big sparkplug for us," said Robin Lopez, who spent the majority of his minutes alongside Portis on the second unit. "You love having him out there, not because of the offense or defense he generates but just because of the energy that he generates."
While Portis' time in Chicago will likely be remembered by most for the practice incident with Nikola Mirotic, he was beloved by teammates and had taken younger players such as Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen under his wings.
"I love Bobby. He’s a couple years older than me. I came in as a rookie and he helped me a lot," said Lauri Markkanen.
In return the Bulls grabbed Otto Porter Jr., a two-way threat who at 25 years old could form another piece to the Bulls' rebuilding core. Because the trade had not been made official until late Wednesday night head coach Jim Boylen and players really couldn't discuss Porter, but LaVine did add in a note about what he knows of the former Wizards forward.
"I know hes’ a really good 3 and D player," LaVine said. "It's another dude to bring and come in here and try to get this thing back to where it’s supposed to be. We’re gonna welcome him in with open arms."