The Bulls looked to the future on Wednesday night when they acquired Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr. in exchange for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a future second round pick.
The acquisition fills a need for the Bulls, who were woefully thin at small forward and weren’t likely to be major factors in the upcoming free agent market on players like Tobias Harris or Khris Middleton. This is essentially the Bulls spending a few months earlier, acquiring a player in Porter who is one year removed from a terrific shooting season (.503/.441/.828) and at 25 years old still has room for improvement.
It’s been a struggle for Porter in Year 2 since signing a $104 million extension with Washington. He’s seen his numbers dip to 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 29.0 minutes per game. His 3-point percentage is down more than seven percentage points to a pedestrian 36.9 percent. Perhaps a change of scenery will do Porter good. The Wizards season has been a mess from start to finish and they’ve been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, entering Wednesday’s play with a 22-31 record and 3.5 games back of the final playoff spot in the East.
The Wizards’ direction reportedly changed earlier this week when it was revealed that star point guard John Wall suffered a torn Achilles after slipping in his home. Wall will miss a full 12 months while recovering, essentially sending Washington into a rebuild that included sending out Porter and his max contract. They’ll have 29 games to watch Portis play and determine if they’ll keep him around in restricted free agency, while it’s highly unlikely they pick up Parker’s $20 million offseason this summer.
Portis’ Bulls career ends after a mostly successful four-year stretch. Portis’ per-36 numbers were excellent but he was never able to carve out a starting role. An offensively gifted stretch forward, Portis leaves Chicago while averaging a career-best 14.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 24.1 minutes. Knee and ankle injuries limited him to just 22 games but he was playing much better of late, averaging 15.5 points on 47 percent shooting (and 43 percent from deep) and 6.8 rebounds.
Parker’s departure was largely expected, presuming the Bulls could find a salary to match Parker’s $20 million tag. He never really fit in Chicago and was unable to find a consistent role despite myriad injuries to the Bulls frontcourt. His role was limited when Jim Boylen took over as head coach and, despite a nice stretch over the last two weeks, was never going to be a long-term fit.
So the Bulls will go forward with Porter on the wing. He’s got the potential to be a lights-out shooter and has proven that in two different seasons. The Bulls’ hope is that this season is an aberration and that he’ll bounce back with a new team.