Bulls guard Zach LaVine still sounded a bit numb Thursday.
And why not? The trade that sent Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and a 2023 second-round pick to the Wizards for Otto Porter was still fresh on his mind. LaVine pointed out several times that “Bobby didn’t do anything wrong.’’
That should be the concern for Bulls management moving forward.
Since being selected 22nd overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Portis did whatever was asked of him, in whatever role they wanted him to play. He was the ultimate team guy — unless your name was Nikola Mirotic. So what kind of message does that send to the rest of the Bulls’ locker room?
“That’s the sport that we live in,’’ LaVine said. “We get criticized when we don’t do the right thing or we want to go somewhere, but it’s the profession, it’s the business that we’re in. That’s what we have to deal with. But when you’re on a team you have to be that way.
“Bobby didn’t do anything wrong. He took his hits, he played his role to the best of his extent. He could have been getting more of a role with the way that he was playing. It sucks, but I wish him the best wherever he goes. He’s a hard worker and has his head in the right place. He’s going to get everything he deserves.’’
The Bulls described the deal as basically a surplus in the frontcourt, with Lauri Markkanen, a four who can play five, Wendell Carter Jr. a five, and Portis a four who was better when he played as a five.
But Portis also turned down a contract extension in the fall and was looking to test the free-agent market this summer.
Financially, the Bulls were able to rid themselves of that cost uncertainty.
“That’s tough,’’ said veteran center Robin Lopez, when asked if the Bulls’ loyalty could become a question for the young players. “I think you can find a lot of examples where there is that loyalty factor, and then you can find a lot of examples where that’s not very apparent.
“What you love about Bobby is he’s a passionate player. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. That’s one of the things that makes him such a formidable player. I’m jealous of Washington.’’