Otto Porter Jr. entered into a new chapter of his basketball career when he was dealt to the Bulls earlier this month. The 25-year-old small forward is happy with his new home, telling Hoops Rumors that he believes Chicago has a bright future.
“We have a lot of young guys, young pieces. The team is definitely headed in the right direction, trying to get back to winning basketball here,” Porter told Hoops Rumors before last Friday’s game against the Magic.
Porter, who grew up in Missouri, added that the transition to Chicago has been a smooth one.
“Going from D.C. to Chicago, I’m actually closer to home,” he said. “So [right away], I was able to see a lot of my family in my first home game with the Bulls.”
When he signed his four-year, $106MM with the Wizards during the summer of 2017, the small forward planned on living out his contract in the city where he attended college and made his NBA debut.
“When I signed the deal [with the Wizards], I didn’t think I was going to get traded,” Porter explained to Hoops Rumors.
Leading up to the trade deadline, management reportedly reiterated to Porter that they weren’t going to trade him away. The former No. 3 overall pick previously said he felt that the team lied to him.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis addressed the response, telling multi-media reporter Mike Wise (Twitter link) that understands Porter’s stance and he feels “terrible” about it.
“We did tell him we weren’t going to trade him. We were going to keep our core together,” Leonsis said, before adding that the team was preparing to make another deal that kept Porter, Bradley Beal, and John Wall together on the team.
“We actually had some other things that we were going to do, and another trade that would have kept the core together and given us flexibility,” Leonsis said, admitting that the hypothetical deal didn’t pan out.
Porter developed into an ultra-efficient scorer over the past few years in Washington, someone who’s capable of excelling as a primary ball-handler or alongside other play-makers. The 2017/18 season was his apex with the Wizards, as he made 44.1% of his 4.1 attempts from behind the arc, a figure that was bested by just two players leaguewide. Porter finished the campaign eighth overall in turnover percentage and sixth among all wing players in effective field goal percentage.
While his numbers dipped slightly to begin the 2018/19 campaign, peak Porter has arrived in Chicago. During his six games to date with his new club, Porter has a true shooting percentage of 65.4%, making over half of his 27 attempts behind the arc. His player efficiency rate over the first 191 minutes of his Bulls career is an electric 19.4.
The Bulls are 4-2 with Porter in the starting lineup, though the wing left halfway through his sixth contest with the team after suffering a lower leg strain. Porter remains out with the ailment as of this writing.
The Wizards have gone 2-6 since making the trade. When asked what direction his former franchise was heading in, Porter replied, “I have no idea to be honest. I’m not focusing on them.”
From an on-court perspective, Porter’s role with the Bulls isn’t expected to be dissimilar to the one he had in Washington. Off the court, he moves from a situation in which many of his teammates were his elders to one in which his NBA experience trumps that of many fellow Bulls. He’s embracing the change.
“I’m one of the oldest on the team, so I have to [play a different role],” Porter told Hoops Rumors. “It’s pretty cool to be one of the vets here.”
Porter’s contract has two years left beyond this season, though his deal contains a player option on the final year, which comes in at approximately $28.5MM. He’ll get to see Chicago make one offseason of moves and play a season-and-a-half worth of games with his new club before making his decision on that option for 2020/21.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.