Jabari Parker

The Bulls-Lakers trade that wasn't

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USA TODAY

The Bulls-Lakers trade that wasn't

 

According to a report from Bill Oram of The Athletic, the Bulls had a trade in place in late January involving Jabari Parker, that would have certainly changed the makeup of the team and their offseason priorities.

The deal, would have netted the Bulls Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Beasley, but after 72 hours and no trade approval from Caldwell-Pope--who has a de facto no-trade clause--the deal was nixed.

Parker is averaging 14.5 PPG on 49.3 percent shooting through 64 games this season. In January he was in the midst of his best shooting month, hitting 57.1 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the 3-point line. He would have be an intriguing addition to a Lakers team that is already stocked full of wing/forward types who run between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8.

On top of the awkward positional fit, Parker would have done little to help the Lakers’ shooting woes. Through 79 games, the Lakers are 2nd to last in the league in 3-point percentage and Parker was shooting well below the league average from deep (31.3 percent from 3-point line) on the season.

But the nature of Parker’s contract--team option after this season--fits the Lakers plan of keeping their cap sheets clean to position themselves for a big free agency.

Michael Beasley is no longer in the NBA after signing a deal in late February with the Guangdong of the Chinese Basketball Association. Caldwell-Pope is was making $12 million this season, but did have a 15 percent trade kicker that would have gone into effect if he was moved to the Bulls.

Caldwell-Pope played all 82 games in 2018-19, averaging 11.4 points per game and shooting 34.7 percent from the 3-point line. He would’ve been the second-most aggressive 3-point shooter on the Bulls after Lauri Markkanen, effectively slotting into the role that Otto Porter Jr. is in now.

Based off of the numbers of Caldwell-Pope and the fact that the Bulls won 5 of their first 7 games after acquiring Porter, it is safe to say the Bulls are pleased with the way things worked out.

A Parker for Caldwell-Pope swap would have allowed the Bulls the financial flexibility to try to make a splashy move in regards to the loaded 2019 NBA free agent class. But the move they settled on in bringing in Porter has provided the Bulls with a small dose of much sought-after lineup stability.

And more important than anything, the Porter acquisition allowed the Bulls front office to properly evaluate Markkanen and Zach LaVine, showing that this unit can run an effective offense with proper floor spacing.

The Bulls took the traditional route, building with players under team control rather than chasing big stars, something that has not proved successful for them in recent years. Amid a season that has been anything but traditional, the stability and normalcy added by Otto Porter was a very, very needed occurrence and has the Bulls positioned well heading into the May 14 NBA Draft Lottery.

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Bobby Portis shines in Wizards debut, drops 30 points in win over Cavaliers

Bobby Portis shines in Wizards debut, drops 30 points in win over Cavaliers

Bobby Portis did not take much time to introduce himself to our nation's capital.

Friday, Portis and Jabari Parker made their Wizards debuts after being dealt by the Bulls ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Portis posted 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting (4-of-6 from three) in 27 minutes, also collecting six rebounds. 

Portis' debut is impressive in its own right, especially considering that he made history in the process.

Parker scored just seven points, though he also had nine assists and grabbed 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. 

Next up for the Wizards? Naturally, Portis, Parker and the Bulls will quickly reunite Saturday night, as the Wizards and Bulls face-off at the United Center. If one thing is certain, it's that the duo's homecoming is sure to be entertaining.

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John Paxson: Otto Porter trade the logical next step for a rebuild heading in the right direction

John Paxson: Otto Porter trade the logical next step for a rebuild heading in the right direction

The Bulls still aren’t going to put a definite timeline on their rebuild, now two years young and not really any better off than it was a year ago. But John Paxson and Gar Forman believe they took the next logical step toward building a winner by acquiring forward Otto Porter Jr. prior to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

Paxson was candid in his statements that the Bulls were realistic about where they stand in the free agency landscape, both this upcoming summer and in 2020. Perhaps last year’s decision to give Jabari Parker $20 million late in free agency after striking out elsewhere was a lesson learned, that being unrealistic can lead to unused money that needs to be spent somewhere. While Paxson did admit that having a seat at the table with the Kevin Durants and the Kawhi Leonards is “what we’re aspiring to,” the franchise isn’t in a current position for that to become a reality.

“We’ve understood that process we’re in right now is hoping to get to that point but we also believe that the draft is very important in order to build to get to there,” Paxson said in response to whether the franchise’s inability to pull free agents in the NBA’s third biggest market was a concern. “I’m confident in our ability to get there because we’ve done it before and we understand that as painful as it is for our fans and everybody else, that we have to remain patient and continue to constantly make the decisions we’re making.”

So instead they nabbed a legitimate two-way player who prior to his current down year was among the best shooters in basketball. In 2017 he was second to Nikola Jokic in effective field goal percentage among players averaging 9 shots per game, and last season only he and Steph Curry had effective field goal percentages of 58 percent or better and averaged 1.5 steals. He also has the ability to play power forward – he has played 36 percent of his minutes this season at the 4 – which will give the Bulls much-needed positional flexibility.

Gar Forman said Porter was a player the Bulls had checked in on a few different times over the last year. Washington’s disastrous 2-9 start followed by John Wall’s season-ending surgery signaled a team looking to sell and, perhaps more importantly, get under the luxury tax. But it wasn’t until John Wall’s freak accident at home resulted in a torn Achilles that the Wizards get into full rebuild mode and talks with the Bulls for Porter picked up. The deal moved quickly enough that both Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker were suited up and ready to play in Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans until they were notified about 30 minutes before tip that they were members of the Wizards.

“We were able in our minds to make a deal where we added a player who fits our timeline, 25 years old, fits a position that we’ve been looking for and has versatility in terms of the way the game is going,” Paxson said. “For us, this was consistent with the direction we chose. We feel really good about it. We’re going to stay committed to the long term and what we’re trying to build with some sustainability. We feel Otto fits that mold.”

And while it was hardly surprising, Paxson gave head coach Jim Boylen a vote of confidence, citing the job he’s done as a teacher and also keeping players accountable while maintaining an open line of communication. Despite the Bulls’ 7-23 record since Boylen took over on Dec. 4 and a handful of embarrassing home losses, Paxson said he “absolutely” believes Boylen will be the head coach next season – when asked, Paxson also shot down the notion that the Bulls not wanting to pay a third head coach played in any part in that expectation.

“We feel he’s doing the right things. He’s trying to get our guys to understand what being a professional is, and to play hard every night and practice hard every day,” Paxson said. “So we’re doing fine with Jim. Jim’s been great in terms of communicating every single day. We’re on a good page there.”

So with a head coach they believe in, four young starters with potential in tow and a likely top-5 draft pick, Paxson believes the Bulls are where they’re supposed to be. Myriad injuries to all seven of the Bulls’ top rotation players halted what could have been an improved record, but the reality is they’re 12-42, have lost 16 of 18 and haven’t showed that much chemistry being able to play successfully with one another.

There’s serious work to be done before the Bulls are able to start thinking about a timeline for competing.

For now they’re content in bringing in a 3 and D wing that both fills a need, meshes with the timeline of their other young prospects and didn’t lock them in financially past a 2121 season in which they could finally sit at the table of a top free agent.

“I can’t pinpoint on a calendar and say by next year or whatever,” Paxson said. “I think we’re all realistic in that as we get through the rest of this year and our expectations that Jim and his staff continue to coach our guys hard, and our guys keep trying to get better, and try to start winning some games if we can.

“But we know that next summer is a big summer for us, like last summer was in terms of the draft primary and then realistically trying to find some vets that fit the group we have. And that’s part of what we evaluate now. We’re evaluating the personalities of our guys, who might fit with them. We understand that that’s ahead of us.”

 

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