Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg says Bobby Portis will have a chance to play extensive minutes at some point this season, likely soon, but this year’s 22nd overall pick has seen just 22 total minutes all season, observes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Portis admits it’s difficult to sit on the bench but understands the level of talent in front of him, which includes Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, Johnson notes. Portis is anxious enough to play that he’d welcome a D-League assignment.
“People hear D-League and think, ‘Oh, man, he’s in the D-League,'” Portis said, according to Johnson. “It’s not about the D-League. It’s about getting reps and getting ready. The D-League’s great for getting better.”
The Bulls are instead making other D-League moves, as we detail amid the latest from the Central Division:
- J.R. Smith says it’s not time for the Cavs to panic yet, but he’s nonetheless concerned, with the Cavs having lost three straight and four of their last six, as he explained to Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The team was without the resting LeBron James in Saturday’s loss, but it’s a matter of competitiveness, and not roster composition, Smith contends. “Just overall competing,” Smith said to Haynes. “We have all the talent. We got all the skills. It’s just competing.”
- Indianapolis and Fort Wayne are close enough to allow the Pacers to frequently shuttle their D-League assignees back and forth, but they’ve instead kept Rakeem Christmas, who’s the D-League Performer of the Week, and Shayne Whittington in Fort Wayne from November 2nd on, notes Adam Johnson of D-League Digest. That’s a longer stretch of time than any other NBA player has spent on D-League assignment this season, and it’s helped Christmas and Whittington gain a sense of consistency, as Pacers D-League GM Brian Levy told Johnson. “Giving the players the greatest chance to succeed in turn gives the team the greatest chance to succeed,” Levy said. “The Pacers have embraced that idea.”
- The Bulls have recalled Cameron Bairstow from the D-League, the team announced. The second-year big man was with San Antonio’s affiliate since Chicago is without a D-League team of its own. Bairstow, whose salary is partially guaranteed for about half its value this season, averaged 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game across five contests for the Austin Spurs.