Bulls teammates react to losing 'glue of the team' in Bobby Portis

Bulls teammates react to losing 'glue of the team' in Bobby Portis

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."


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Bulls Talk Podcast: Expectations for the Bulls over the last 24 games


Bulls Talk Podcast: Expectations for the Bulls over the last 24 games

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski is joined by The Athletic Bulls beat writer Darnell Mayberry.

0:45 - Darnell on his very lengthy mailbag over 6500 words answering Bulls fans questions

1:50 - On Otto Porter and his impact on the Bulls

5:00 - On Bulls looking much better with Porter

6:00 - On Kris Dunn and his future

7:20 - Where Zion Williamson fits as a pro (Editor’s note: this podcast was taped prior to the Duke-UNC game on Wednesday night)

11:10 - On Ja Morant, his ceiling, and risk vs reward of picking him

16:20 - Is Zach LaVine an option at point guard?

17:15 - Darnell on why Markkanen and Carter Jr would have trouble co-existing with Zion Williamson

19:10 - On Jim Boylen’s future with the Bulls

23:55 - On the chance that Derrick Rose could play for the Bulls next season

25:30 - What to look for over the final 24 games

26:50 - Will Robin Lopez finish the season with Bulls?

28:20 - On lottery odds and seemingly being locked into the 4th spot in the lottery

29:30 - On chance for a significant jump for Bulls next season

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast


Zion Williamson suffers mild knee sprain in opening minute of Duke-UNC

Zion Williamson suffers mild knee sprain in opening minute of Duke-UNC

In a game in which you could spot the likes of Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and former President Barack Obama in the crowd, almost everyone came away disappointed. In the opening minute of Wednesday’s Duke-North Carolina game, Blue Devils star Zion Williamson slipped when trying to plant his foot, tearing through his PG 2.5 basketball sneaker and suffering an apparent knee/lower leg injury.

The Williamson injury happened approximately 40 seconds into the game, taking away much of the fanfare from one of the most anticipated college basketball games of the year for both fans and NBA scouts alike.

Postgame, Duke head coach Mike Krzyewski stated that Zion’s injury as of now is being labeled a mild knee sprain.

This initial diagnosis is very good for Williamson, as the injury appeared to be a much more serious knee or lower leg issue in real-time. Without Williamson, Duke had to rely heavily on freshmen RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones for offense, and Jone specifically struggled to take on a bigger role. Clearly, Williamson’s prolonged absence had both a mental and physical effect on this young Duke team. They had no rim protection without him and they severely missed his leadership once the game got out of hand.

There was no shortage of love for Zion on the night, with everyone wishing him a quick recovery, including President Obama and Nike.

As of Wednesday night, there is no official timetable for Williamson’s return. He will almost surely missed Duke’s next game on February 23 against Syracuse. Their last game of the regular season is a rematch against UNC on March 9. After that, the Blue Devils will be getting ready for the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, that starts on March 12. If Williamson is going to return this season, it would be reasonable to expect it to happen by the ACC Tournament, as it is hard to imagine the idea of Zion playing in the NCAA Tournament without any game reps prior.

And of course, Williamson could shut it down for the rest of the season if he wants to use this recovery period to get ready for the NBA Draft, an idea that Bulls Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen had already floated. Regardless of what Williamson chooses to do, the entire basketball world will be on the edge of their seats, waiting for updates.