Chicago Bulls: Bobby Portis has worked his way into the Bulls future

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Bobby Portis /

It’s been a roller coaster of a 2017 season for Bobby Portis. Despite the early season drama, Portis has played his way into the Bulls future plans.

Two months ago, few could’ve imagined that we would even get to this point.

On October 17th- just two days before the Bulls season opener, Portis was involved in an altercation with teammate Nikola Mirotic at practice. Portis reportedly knocked Mirotic out cold, sending him to the hospital.

Mirotic would not return the court until just under two months after the incident.

Portis was consequently suspended for the first eight games of the season, although many believed he should’ve been cut all-together.

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Since the incident, Mirotic and Portis have made up. The two now remarkably share time on the court. But what’s even more impressive is what has been accomplished on the court.

Since Mirotic’s return, the Bulls are 7-1, improving from 3-20 pre-Mirotic to 10-21 with him.

While Mirotic certainly has played well, the play of Portis has been equally as impressive.

In 22 games this season, Portis is averaging career-highs in points per game (12.6), rebounds (6.7), assists (1.6), free throw percentage (81%) and three-point percentage (39%).

The stats say it all- Portis has made a huge jump in his third season. Maybe the preseason indicident forced him to mature. Maybe it’s the increased opportunities.

But one thing is for sure. Portis is back to playing with the same intensity that he did in college at Arkansas. Portis is playing angry.

If Portis continues to contribute, the Bulls front office is going to be faced with a tough decision. With franchise cornerstone Lauri Markkanen continuing to grow, and potential superstar big men Deandre Ayton (Arizona) and Marvin Bagley III (Duke) likely available come next summers draft, the Bulls need to decide if Portis fits into their future plans.

The Bulls have options. They could move Portis either this season or over the summer to make room for Ayton or Bagley. Or the Bulls could opt to keep Portis and build around him, thus taking a stud point guard in the lottery.

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Option #1- Trade Portis

– Trade Portis for a late first round or early second round pick

– Select an elite big man in the top-5

As mentioned above, the Bulls will likely look to move Portis for the right price. The possibility of a late-pick sleeper in a draft stocked with scorers could tempt the Bulls to move into prime position for one.

Both Ayton and Bagley are almost locks to go in the top 5, as it would be a matter of where the Bulls pick in the top-5 to determine which prized prospect would be theirs.

Portis’ play throughout the rest of the season will determine his trade value, but a late first rounder isn’t too high of an asking price for a versatile big man such as Portis.

Option #2- Keep Portis

– Hold onto Portis until the 2018-19 season

– Select a guard or forward in the top-5

– Mold Portis into the Bulls future starting center

This ones a little less likely. The Bulls are more likely than ever to pick one of the two prized big men, but if Portis continues to show extreme improvement, the Bulls could opt to make Portis their future starting center.

Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr or international phenom Luka Doncic could be names of interest for the Bulls. Two forwards with superstar potential, the Bulls might decide to keep Portis and Markkanen as the two big men, and take a chance on a forward.

Obviously the Bulls have options besides these two. It’ll be interesting to see what path the Bulls take in regards to Portis’ future in Chicago.

The Portis decision is just one in many future tough calls during the Bulls rebuilding period.