Otto Porter

Central Rumors: Poeltl, Griffin, Porter, Thompson

The Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl and the Kings’ Harry Giles are two of the centers the Pistons could target in free agency, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Poeltl began his NBA career under Pistons coach Dwane Casey in Toronto and his agent, Michael Tellem, is the son of Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem, Edwards notes. Giles, like Poeltl, has the ability to develop into a much greater force than he’s shown with his current club, Edwards adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The 2019/20 season was a wash for Pistons star forward Blake Griffin due to knee and hamstring injuries. However, the oft-injured Griffin believes he has plenty left in the tank, as he told the Detroit Free Press’ Omari Sankofa II (Twitter link) and other media members. Griffin said he doesn’t see his current contract, which lasts through the 2021/22 season, as his last. He also doesn’t view himself as being in decline. Griffin said last month he’s fully recovered from knee surgery in early January.
  • It’s doubtful Otto Porter will remain on the Bulls beyond his current contract, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago speculates. Porter’s expiring contract — provided he opts in for $28.5MM next season — is his main value to the organization. Given Porter’s injury history, Johnson anticipates there are other long-term plans for the wing spot beyond Porter.
  • While many NBA experts believe free agent Tristan Thompson has played his last game with the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has heard otherwise (hat tip to Hoops Hype’s Alex Kennedy). On the Wine and Gold Talk podcast, Fedor said Thompson is intrigued by the idea of finishing his career in Cleveland. “There’s also a sense that the Cavs recognize the value that Tristan Thompson brings,” Fedor said. “And Tristan being one of the greatest Cavaliers of all-time and eventually having his jersey hung and continuing to climb the ranks of the all-time Cavs is something that’s meaningful to him.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Cavs, Prince, Pistons

Now that the Bulls have been officially excluded from the NBA’s 22-team resumption, the team will naturally turn their attention to an exciting offseason, per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. This will mark Chicago’s first offseason with Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley at the helm of the team’s front office. Karnisovas and Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf both released official statements expressing disappointment at not getting to partake in the conclusion of the season from a player development perspective.

The status of head coach Jim Boylen, despite support from ownership and former president of operations John Paxson, remains the biggest question mark. Boylen owns a 39-84 record as head coach. Otto Porter Jr., the team’s injury-prone highest-paid player, is expected to opt in to the final season of his four-year, $106.5MM contract.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers voiced their frustration about not being invited to the league’s 22-team Orlando restart this summer, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The team finishes with the East’s worst record, 19-46. “This is a killer for us and our development,” a Cleveland organization member relayed to Fedor.
  • The Pistons are still potentially considering 2004 championship small forward Tayshaun Prince for a front office position with the club, according to Omari Sanofka II of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Sanofka notes that Detroit is currently on the hunt for an experienced general manager and an up-and-coming assistant, a position for which Prince, currently in the Grizzlies front office as VP of basketball affairs, is considered a prime candidate.
  • Progress is being made in the Pistons’ search for a new GM, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit NewsMalik Rose and Pat Garrity had been the team’s top two assistant general managers, reporting directly to de facto head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski. Rose is leaving the organization and Garrity will not be in the running for the GM job. Others being considered are Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, former Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox, and former Suns general manager Ryan McDonough.

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Porter, Boylen, White

Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen was unhappy with the direction of the offense under coach Jim Boylen and his role in it, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Markkanen’s frustration had reached a point where he’d rather be dealt if organization changes weren’t made, Cowley continues. It’s possible the new front office executive — the Bulls are lining up interviews with candidates — could look to trade Markkanen if they feel the relationship is beyond repair, Cowley adds.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • Within that same story, Cowley writes that the Bulls are keeping a close eye on the Heat. In addition to seeking an interview with Miami’s assistant GM Adam Simon, Chicago has also considered emulating the Heat’s front office structure, and has done homework on free agents like Goran Dragic and Derrick Jones.
  • Otto Porter Jr. will likely be in a lame duck situation as the team’s small forward next season, Cowley writes in a separate story. Porter will surely exercise his $28.5MM option for next season after an injury-plagued campaign and his salary will come off the books just in time for the much-anticipated 2021 free-agent class. Boylen has even hinted he might have Porter come off the bench next season.
  • Boylen’s future with the organization will be determined by the lead executive the Bulls hire, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Boylen has the support of COO Michael Reinsdorf and executive VP John Paxson but a desire of the new executive to hire his own coach wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, Johnson continues, confirming one of his earlier stories. While Reinsdorf has been handling the search, Paxson has been a driving force on the need for change and a more modern front office, Johnson adds.
  • The team’s ceiling for next season with its current group is a low-end playoff seed unless 2019 lottery pick Coby White develops rapidly, Kevin Pelton of ESPN opines. White needs to emerge as a knockdown shooter, something he flashed late in the season.  It’s unlikely the new executive will pursue an extension with Markkanen, but if he bounces back and breaks out, the Bulls can still benefit by utilizing his “relatively modest” $20.2MM cap hold as he enters restricted free agency, Pelton adds.

Otto Porter Set To Return For Bulls

Otto Porter, who has been sidelined for nearly four months, said today that he’ll return to the Bulls‘ active roster for Monday night’s game against Dallas, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

Porter suffered a foot injury early in the 2019/20 campaign, dealing with a bone bruise, bone edema, and a small fracture in that troublesome left foot. He last suited up for Chicago on November 6, having appeared in the Bulls’ first nine games of the season.

Acquired at last year’s trade deadline for the expiring contracts of Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, Porter has played just 24 total games since arriving in Chicago, averaging 15.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG with a .463/.458/.846 shooting line. When he’s in the lineup, he has been a reliable three-and-D frontcourt option for the club, but health issues have limited his playing time both this season and last season.

Even if Porter finishes stays healthy and plays well over the next month and a half, he’s unlikely to opt for free agency by turning down his $28.5MM player option for 2020/21 this summer. As such, he’ll likely return to the Bulls next season, barring a trade.

The Bulls are gradually getting healthier after being hit hard by the injury bug this season. Wendell Carter played on Saturday for the first time since early January, while Lauri Markkanen, who last played on January 22, appears to be nearing a return as well.

Central Notes: Porter Jr., Oladipo, Green, Forman

One of the big reasons why the Cavaliers made the Jordan Clarkson trade was to open up minutes for rookie Kevin Porter Jr., according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The team was aware that Clarkson would likely leave as an unrestricted free agent over the summer, while Porter is one of the team’s building blocks, Fedor continues. Teammates, coaches and members of the front office have raved about Porter’s talent for months, Fedor adds, and by moving Clarkson there’s more playing time available for the 30th overall pick in the draft.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • While ESPN reported that Victor Oladipo is aiming to return in late January or early February, Pacers coach Nate McMillan insists no timetable has been set for his star guard’s return, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star relays.  Oladipo continues to work his way back from a serious quad injury suffered last season.“No. We haven’t come up with a date,” McMillan said. “I saw that report. We haven’t come up with a timeline for him to return.”
  • Veteran forward Jeff Green could fill a need for the Bulls, according to Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. They are dealing with injuries at the small forward spot and Green, who was waived by Utah earlier this week, could help in that area. Otto Porter Jr.‘s foot ailment seems to be a long-term issue, Walton notes. The Bulls would have to open up a roster spot to sign Green since they’re currently at the maximum level.
  • Gar Forman’s draft record with the Bulls has been solid but unspectacular over the past four years with the club in rebuild mode, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. Forman’s best pick was selecting Lauri Markkanen in the 2017 draft, Cowley notes.

Otto Porter Jr. To Miss Additional Time

Otto Porter Jr. was expected to be back on the court prior to Christmas. However, his left foot woes are going to keep him out of the lineup for at least four more weeks, according to the team’s website. The Bulls indicated that Porter will “continue his period of immobilization and progress as tolerated” during that time.

That four-week mark is when the team plans on re-evaluating the small fracture in his foot, so expect Porter to sit out well into January. The wing has only played in nine games for Chicago this season because of the ailment. His averages thus far as 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per contest.

The Bulls enter the night 8-17 on the season. They could certainly use their starting small forward back in the lineup if they are going to make a run at the postseason, as I mentioned on the Turning Points podcast.

Chicago had high hopes for the season, but without Porter Jr. for much of the year, the team has struggled to score efficiently. Only the Knicks have a worse offensive rating than the Bulls, per NBA.com.

Otto Porter Jr. Will Miss At Least Two More Weeks

An MRI conducted Wednesday on Otto Porter Jr..’s injured left foot revealed “continued bone edema,” the Bulls announced in a press release. His condition will be reassessed in two weeks.

The team plans for Porter to eventually resume non-impact activities and targeted therapy. He is being evaluated by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Bob Anderson, who K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes also performed surgery on Denzel Valentine‘s ankle (Twitter link).

Porter hasn’t played since leaving the November 6 game in Atlanta with a bruised foot. He has appeared in just nine games in his first full season with the team.

Porter provided a boost to Chicago’s offense last season after being acquired in a February trade, averaging a career-best 17.5 points in 15 games. His scoring average is down to 11.2 PPG so far this year and his shooting percentage has fallen from 47.9% to 43.2%.

Eastern Notes: VanVleet, Smart, Porter, Giannis

Having thrived as the Raptors‘ starting point guard without Kyle Lowry in the lineup for the team’s last 11 contests, Fred VanVleet may be raising the value of his next contract with each game, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. During that Lowry-less stretch, Toronto has a 9-2 record and VanVleet has averaged 21.2 PPG, 7.5 APG, and 2.4 SPG with a .402 3PT%.

VanVleet will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and Lewenberg speculates that Malcolm Brogdon‘s four-year, $85MM deal from this past offseason could end up being the baseline for the Raptors’ point guard if he keeps up his current pace.

In an appearance on Brian Windhorst’s ESPN podcast (hat tip to RealGM), Bobby Marks said he heard from one team last week that believes VanVleet may even command between $25-30MM next summer, with a handful of rebuilding clubs among the candidates to make a run at the Raptors’ up-and-coming star using cap space. “I almost fell off my chair when they told me that,” Marks admitted.

When I ranked 2020’s free agents last month, I placed VanVleet all the way up at No. 7 and questioned whether that was too high. The way his season is going, he may rank even higher the next time we revisit that list.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been banged up all year, a trend that continued on Sunday when he took a shot to his abdomen while drawing an offensive foul. Smart, who missed the rest of the game, has been reluctant to sit out at all this season, but admitted to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that he may not be able to return right away from his latest injury, which he believes is an oblique issue. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston explored what it would mean for the C’s if their hard-nosed guard misses some time.
  • Otto Porter is the Bulls‘ highest-paid player and the team has badly missed his experience on both ends of the floor during his absence with a foot injury, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “He settles us down a bit, maybe at times we need that,” head coach Jim Boylen said of the veteran forward. “He makes timely shots. He’s one of our better shooters. And he has positional size, which is a huge part of that big wing position. We miss those things.”
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been better this year than he was last year when he won the MVP, Alex Boeder of NBA.com contends. Boeder identifies an improved three-point shot and a lower turnover rate as evidence of the Greek Freak’s leap.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Bulls Notes: WCJ, LaVine, Porter Jr.

The Bulls are out to a rough start at 6-14 and Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago argues that Wendell Carter Jr. has been the only player to make the team better on both ends of the court. Chicago is better on both offense and defense in terms of net rating with WCJ on the floor and the team should utilize him more, Schaefer contends.

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • The Zach LaVineLauri Markkanen pairing simply hasn’t meshed this season, Schaefer writes in the same piece. Both players have had peaks and valleys in their season with neither catching fire together and the Bulls have been outscored by 7.5 points per possession when the duo shares the floor.
  • Sam Smith of NBA.com wonders if the Bulls can still make the playoffs. The scribe breaks down the field in the East and believes that Chicago can still make a run at the eighth seed in the conference.
  • Otto Porter Jr. (foot injury) is approaching the two-week mark of his originally estimated four-week absence. The wing said he feels better but there is still no exact timetable for this return, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays (Twitter link).

Bulls’ Otto Porter Out At Least Two More Weeks

The Bulls will be without starting forward Otto Porter Jr. for at least a couple more weeks, the team announced today in a press release.

According to the team, Porter underwent another MRI on his left foot on Tuesday and it revealed bone bruising not apparent on the original MRI. The 26-year-old will continue to receive treatment for the injury and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, per the Bulls.

Porter has already missed the Bulls’ last five contests, having not played since he left the team’s November 6 game in Atlanta early due to that bruised left foot. The timing was unfortunate for the veteran forward, who struggled in his first seven games, with 10.0 PPG on 34.8% shooting, but appeared to be heating up in his last couple outings, with 15.5 PPG on 66.7% shooting.

Chandler Hutchison, who started Chicago’s last five games, will continue to play an increased role while Porter is sidelined.

[UPDATE: Hutchison will miss the Bulls’ Wednesday game vs. Detroit with an injury of his own.]

Porter’s ability to return to the Bulls’ lineup and have a positive impact will be a major factor in his looming contract decision next offseason. He holds a $28.49MM player option for 2020/21 and may simply pick up that option if he has a down year. On the other hand, a strong, healthy finish could put him in position to opt out in search of a longer-term deal.