The NBA is a business—if a team can improve their roster and it means they will cut or trade a player to do so, they will do it with no hesitation. Bobby Portis learned that the hard way when he was traded to Washington from Chicago along with forward Jabari Parker after being told he was likely not going to be traded.
Portis saw rumors rumbling on social media that his name was in trade talks prior to the deadline so he contacted his agent to confirm. His agent then called Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman to see if the rumors were true and Forman told his agent Portis would only be traded for a superstar player. Portis was then traded—with Parker—for Otto Porter Jr.
Portis has already played in four games for Washington where he is averaging 19.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Portis began his tenure with the Wizards strong scoring 32 points in his debut. The 24-year-old forward told Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype how the situation went down in full detail.
“It’s been a crazy two weeks,” Portis said. “On Sunday [before the trade deadline], I was seeing rumors and stuff on Twitter and Instagram so I called my agent. I asked him, “Am I in trade talks?” My agent immediately called Gar Forman, who is the GM of the Bulls. Gar Forman said, “No, it would have to be a blockbuster trade. If we were getting [a superstar like] LeBron James or Kevin Durant, then yeah, we’d trade Bobby. But [otherwise], no, we’re not trading Bobby.
“So Tuesday comes around and I’m at a G-League game when my agent called me. He said he got a call from Gar and [Bulls VP of Basketball Operations] John Paxson and they were asking questions like, “Does Bobby really want to be here? Does Bobby love being a Bull? Is he fine with his role?” I’ve been having a good year and I guess they were trying to see if I still wanted to be in Chicago. And, obviously, my answer was yes. Who doesn’t want to play for the great city of Chicago? Who doesn’t want to play at United Center and be a Bull?
"Who doesn’t want to play for the great city of Chicago? Who doesn’t want to be a Bull? … [When I heard the news], my heart dropped. My stomach dropped… I guess I’m getting my first taste of the business. I just don’t think it was done the right way." https://t.co/ivw5ITnKde
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 13, 2019
“On Wednesday, [I’m thinking], “I know for sure that I’m going to be a Bull after the deadline.” We had a game that night, so I went through my pregame routine, got taped, put my jersey on and sat in the locker room. Twenty-three minutes before the game started, one of the coaches told me that our head coach, Jim Boylen, wanted to talk with me. I walked into his office and I see Gar, Pax and Coach Boylen. They told me that they had agreed in principle to trade me. I asked, “Where am I going?” Then, they were hesitant to say. They finally said the Wizards.
“My heart dropped. My stomach dropped. I didn’t know what to think. I went back to the locker room and I was just hugging everybody, shaking everyone’s hand. Everybody was in shock because nobody knew I was going to be traded. That wasn’t even a thought anyone had considered because they loved me there. It was a crazy feeling. Then, my phone started going haywire, so I guess that’s when the news dropped and everybody found out.”
Surprisingly, Chicago took the offer from Washington for Otto Porter Jr. who is a valuable player, but not a superstar. But, the Bulls sit at the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings and are in need of game-changing players to pair with Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn. Many felt Portis was that guy, but Chicago is now relying on Porter Jr. to fill that void.
In 22 games with Chicago, Portis averaged 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on 45 percent shooting before being traded. For Porter Jr., he exploded for a career-high 37 points on 16-of-20 shooting for Chicago in the team’s 122-110 win over Memphis. He is averaging 22.5 points per game in four games with Chicago.
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