Guard Zach LaVine will hit the recruiting trail when the time is right.
He made that clear this month, insisting that the Bulls wouldn’t be that hard of a sell to potential free agents.
He won’t be alone on the trail, either.
“Of course,’’ forward Otto Porter Jr. said Wednesday when asked if he also was comfortable enough to play point man in the recruiting process. “Like I said, we’re going in the right direction, and once we continue to build and continue to grow here, I think when the league sees what we’re trying to do, people will want to join, for sure.’’
That’s the modern NBA for you. Recruit or die. Tank or remain stagnant.
LaVine (bruised thigh) and Porter (strained right rotator cuff) sat out the Bulls’ 126-120 overtime victory against the Wizards, but Shaq Harrison, who had 18 points, and Cristiano Felicio, who scored 15, doomed another shot at draft-lottery musical chairs.
Kris Dunn had a season-high 26 points, and Lauri Markkanen was back to his February self, scoring 32, but the unsung Bulls were huge in this one.
“We say it doesn’t matter where you’re drafted, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter if your family has money, no money, whatever,’’ coach Jim Boylen said. “You step over the line, compete, good things happen for you.’’
That’s why Porter said he feels good about the rebuild moving forward, and at the same time, he knows the Bulls still need some more help when the time is right.
“I do know that the future is definitely important as far as what’s coming up in the summer, so that’s going to be a big play in everything,’’ Porter said of the upcoming draft being the next piece of the puzzle.
Then it’s about Porter and LaVine playing salesmen.
“This team is going in the right direction,’’ Porter said. “We have a lot of young guys learning and growing together. The future is very bright. It’s actually kind of exciting, and I can’t wait to be a part of it and watch it grow.’’
Porter’s mood wasn’t even dampened by the fact that he couldn’t play against his ex-teammates. The Bulls acquired Porter on Feb. 6 for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis.
“A lot of guys on that team are my guys,’’ Porter said. “I’m always checking up on them, but when I got traded, I was focused on coming to Chicago. That was a big thing.’’
The Porter effect has been immediate: The Bulls (21-52) look more competitive on a nightly basis, win or lose.
Against the Wizards, it was the former — the Bulls’ second consecutive victory.
Not that it came easy.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal sent the game to overtime with a baseline jumper with 2.4 seconds left, and Beal kept the Wizards close with 44.6 seconds left in overtime, making two of three free throws to cut the deficit to two.
But Markkanen connected on a three-pointer with 32.3 seconds left that proved to be the dagger.