While it makes sense for a rebuilding team to retain young players with promise, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago tweeted on October 18 that the club hadn’t, at that point, made a decision about Portis.
Portis infamously hospitalized Nikola Mirotic in a team practice on October 17 and several stories have emerged in the last few days about internal doubts that the two will ever be able to co-exist in a Bulls locker room again.
As far as asset management goes, however, it makes sense for the Bulls to pick up the options on all of the capable young players as doing so doesn’t preclude them from making any moves with Mirotic, of Portis for that matter, in the future.
The exercised options of Dunn and Valentine are obvious choices. Both players, highly regarded entering their rookie campaigns in 2016/17, have shown flashes of why they were so revered in college. The raw but malleable assets are exactly the type of building blocks that a team in Chicago’s current position ought to be collecting.
In contrast, Grant, the club’s starting point guard thus far in 2018/19, is the most heavily utilized player of the bunch. Grant has posted averages of 10.8 points and an impressive 7.3 assists per game in a full starter’s workload through four games. He may end up ceding time and opportunity to Dunn, who is expected to return in a reserve role soon, but has done a fine job establishing himself in his third season.
The decision to exercise Payne’s fourth-year option seems natural considering that the team marketed him as a potential point guard of the future last season.
As the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson noted in a separate tweet, there remains internal belief that Payne could have an impact on the rebuilding team if he’s able to maintain his health. Payne has played just 88 games throughout the first three years of his career.