Otto Porter

Central Notes: Bulls, Porter, Hayes, Giannis

Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports takes a look at some of the key storylines facing the Bulls roster heading into training camp. Though the club’s personnel off the court underwent some drastic revisions, the current on-court product looks fairly similar, Schaefer notes.

Rookies Patrick Williams and Devon Dotson join free agent additions Garrett Temple and Noah Vonleh. Guards Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison are currently the only significant departures from the 2019/20 roster. Individual workouts commence this Tuesday, December 1, while team workouts kick off on December 6.

Schaeffer notes that the starting point guard position could be up for grabs in new head coach Billy Donovan‘s first training camp with the Bulls. Though second-year guard Coby White started the Bulls’ most recent game, Tomas Satoransky was the lead guard for the other 64 games of the 2019/20 season. The fates of deep-bench centers Cristiano Felicio and Luke Kornet and the club’s two-way players are narratives that offer some intrigue as well.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Bulls will need for starting small forward Otto Porter to prove he’s worth his contract in the final year of his lucrative deal and become a trade asset by the deadline, and for starting power forward Lauri Markkanen to develop a game that stagnated last season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
  • Former Pistons guard Will Bynum, now a trainer and founder of The Grind Family skills academy for basketball players, recently discussed his experience training new Detroit point guard Killian Hayes, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press Pistons. “His lateral footwork is really, really good,” Bynum said. “His hands are quick. And he has the patience to defend really, really good rhythm players offensively.”
  • With his looming maximum salary extension now the talk of the league, Bucks MVP forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was set to depart his native Greece for the U.S. this weekend ahead of the team’s training camp kickoff, according to Antigoni Zachari of Eurohoops.

Otto Porter Jr. To Exercise 2020/21 Option

Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. plans to pick up his $28.4MM player option and return to Chicago for the 2020/21 season, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes tweets.

Porter, a seven-year NBA veteran, holds career averages of 11.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He was acquired by the Bulls in February of 2019 in exchange for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 second-round pick.

Viewed as the Bulls’ answer at small forward, Porter was limited to just 14 games in 2019/20 due to a foot injury. Now, his future in Chicago is up in the air — if he remains on the roster through next season, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

Chicago could have multiple players enter restricted free agency later this week, including Kris Dunn ($7MM qualifying offer), Denzel Valentine ($4.69MM) and Shaquille Harrison ($2MM).

The team finished with a 22-43 record last season, good for fifth-worst in the Eastern Conference.

Bulls Notes: Eversley, Roster, Donovan, Porter

After making the postseason for 10 of 11 seasons, the Bulls have appeared in the playoffs just once in the past five years, finishing in the lottery in each of the last three seasons. The club’s new basketball operations decision-makers are very aware of that fact, with general manager Marc Eversley telling reporters on Wednesday that bringing the franchise “back to relevance” is one of the front office’s primary goals.

“This is the Chicago Bulls. It’s an iconic brand,” Eversley said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “There’s a tremendous amount of history. It’s a responsibility. And I think we’ve embraced that.”

The Bulls are coming off back-to-back 22-win seasons (albeit in 17 fewer games in 2019/20), but Eversley said on Wednesday that he feels as if there’s enough talent on the roster to comfortably exceed that figure next season.

“I like a lot of the players on this roster,” Eversley said. “I think if we put together an efficient, effective player development program, I think you will see a quick turnaround in terms of the output that these players give. By going out and getting a Billy Donovan, who brings a different voice to the gym. He brings winning. He brings leadership. He brings player development. And I think if you put that voice at the top of this thing, I think our players will grow.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • According to Eversley, the Bulls were patient in conducting their coaching search, interviewing 10 candidates before pivoting and becoming aggressive once Donovan became available. “It’s interesting because as we were going through the process, one of the things that we had talked about was we need to be thorough and practice patience. And when Billy became available, I think (executive VP of basketball operations) Arturas (Karnisovas) called an Uber and he wanted to head to O’Hare right away,” Eversley joked, according to Johnson. “His aggressiveness was thorough, but it was also well thought out. And he had reasons why he thought we need to attack this thing and gather as much information as possible about Billy.”
  • Otto Porter Jr., who was limited to 14 games in 2019/20 due to a left foot fracture, has looked great at the Bulls’ in-market mini-camp, Eversley said on Wednesday (link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). Porter is expected to pick up the $28.5MM player option on the final year of his contract.
  • In a separate article for The Athletic, Mayberry answers readers’ questions about the Donovan hiring, the possibility of a reunion with Joakim Noah, and the frontcourt pairing of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, among other topics.

Eastern Notes: Gordon, Wizards, Sheppard, Bulls’ Draft

Frustration over his hamstring injury led Magic forward Aaron Gordon to leave the Orlando campus, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. “He’s so frustrated because there were days when he felt good and looked like he might be close to playing, and (then) he can’t run, can’t sprint,” coach Steve Clifford said. “And every time he tried to amp it up and do more, he was just never all that close.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard vows not to embrace any short-term fixes in his quest to build a true contender, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “There’s no shortcuts to anywhere we’re going to,” Sheppard said. “That’s the hardest thing is to step back and look at a team and say ‘Hey, there’s ways we can probably artificially inflate this team up’ and grab a couple players and get a couple more wins and feel a little bit better at the end of the year. But is that really about winning at a really large scale, and where we want this to be?”
  • Sheppard would still like to see progress in the form of a playoff berth next season and he hopes the team’s top pick will help them get there, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. Washington didn’t move up in the lottery and will have the No. 9 overall pick. “Next year, we don’t want to rely on the draft lottery to get better,” Sheppard said. He’s also willing to move up the draft, possibly by packaging the lottery pick the second-rounder it owns at No. 37 overall, Hughes tweets.
  • The safest route for the Bulls to go with the No. 4 pick would be a small forward, either Deni Avdija or Isaac Okoro, to eventually replace Otto Porter Jr., Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times opines. Cowley explores various options regarding the pick in his article.

Central Notes: Reynolds, Porter, Lamb, Leaf, Galloway

When the NBA announced the official rosters for the summer restart on Monday, Cameron Reynolds‘ name didn’t show up on the Bucks‘ squad. Asked about Reynolds’ omission, head coach Mike Budenholzer explained that the limitations placed on the team’s overall traveling party – including coaches and trainers – resulted in Milwaukee leaving its second two-way player at home.

“It’s really hard not to bring him,” Budenholzer said, per Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But at some point … you start thinking, ‘How do we make sure that, whether it be the top eight, nine, 10, 11 guys, have the best health from our sports performance, whether it be a massage person, a physical therapist, strength and conditioning coaches.’ … We felt like 16 players was the right decision and all the staff that we brought from sports performance and assistant coaches gave us our best group.”

Reynolds’ absence in Orlando doesn’t mean he’s no longer under contract with the Bucks. His two-way deal with the team will expire in October, and Milwaukee will have an opportunity to re-sign him at that point.

Here’s more from out of the Central:

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.