Bulls’ schedule is out, and Otto Porter Jr. would like to be a part of it
The oft-injured forward is entering the last season of his contract, which he just picked up for $28.5 million, so he’d like to help his team out by being available and help himself out with free agency looming.
On the same day the NBA released the first half of its 2020-21 schedule, oft-injured veteran forward Otto Porter Jr. said his goal this season is to make sure he’s involved in as many of the Bulls’ games as possible.
No biggie? The numbers suggest the more Porter, the better.
Since he was acquired from the Wizards in February 2019, the Bulls have a .286 winning percentage. When he actually plays, that percentage is .414.
The problem is he has mostly been in street clothes, playing in just 29 of 93 games since he arrived. That’s about $1.3 million per appearance on the court as a Bull. And he just exercised his $28.5 million player option for one more go at it.
His health was a key topic Friday.
“Yeah, [I have to] just really focus on the healthy aspect part of it,” Porter said. “Making sure I get my body right, knowing it could lead up to a big season this year with the Bulls where we’re looking forward to doing big things.
“I’m just really focused on this year. You can’t really change the past, and for this upcoming season, I’m just looking forward to it.”
New coach Billy Donovan will have to keep a close eye on Porter’s minutes so the Bulls have him available for as much of the season as possible.
“I think for Otto, with the amount of time that he’s missed, certainly him being healthy is the most important thing to our team,” Donovan said. “But he’s been back here, he’s been working, which has been great to see. I’ve always felt like even before, his time in Washington, he’s smart, he’s got a really good feel of how to play. He can make a shot. He’s a good passer. He’s just a guy that’s not been available very much since he’s been here. The more we can keep him healthy, keep him ready, I think that really, really helps the group.’’
If Porter starts the season coming off the bench or has restrictions on his minutes out of the gate, that’s fine by him.
“As far as the minutes and such, that’s totally up to Coach,” he said. “I told him that I would play whatever he wanted me to do, play however many minutes. I’m definitely down for doing that.”
And now to the schedule …
It won’t be a kind start for the Bulls.
The Hawks were very beatable in years past, but a new-look Hawks team could present trouble on Dec. 23 in the season opener at the United Center.
The Bulls then host the Pacers and Warriors back-to-back before hitting the road for a three-game trip Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 to face the Wizards (twice) and the Bucks.
After that, they face the Mavericks at home, then travel to Portland, Sacramento and Los Angeles (where they’ll play both the Lakers and Clippers) before returning home to host the Celtics. Then it’s back on the road against Donovan’s former Thunder team and the Mavericks again.
That’s 14 games against teams that were playoff teams last season and/or have legitimate playoff hopes this season.
February has some contests worth circling on the calendar: home games against coach Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks on Feb. 1 and 3 and against Zion Williamson and the Pelicans on Feb. 10.
2020-21 Bulls’ first-half schedule
• Home opener: Dec. 23 vs. Hawks (part of three-game homestand to open season; also Dec. 26 vs. Pacers, Dec. 27 vs. Warriors).
• First road game: Dec. 29 at Wizards.