In reality, however, the excellent play of lottery pick Lauri Markkanen has made both players expendable. Markkanen is averaging 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game on 40% three point shooting from three through 4 games. Neither Mirotic nor Portis have even come close to putting up those kinds of averages in their longer careers, and Markkanen is doing this as a rookie.
There is still a market for both players. Both Portis and Mirotic have played roles very well for successful past Bulls teams, and they both could thrive in the right system. With both players on very cap-friendly contracts, there should be a solid market for both players.
Atlanta: Nikola Mirotic for Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, 2018 2nd Round Pick
Atlanta gets rid of two veterans each holding back young players at their respective positions (DeAndre Bembry and John Collins,) and they add a player who can be a featured part of the Hawks offense in Mirotic. Mirotic would greatly benefit from playing pick and pop with Dennis Schroeder, and John Collins would greatly benefit from going against a crafty player like Mirotic in practice. Mirotic could very feasibly be a 15 point – 7 rebound per game player for the Hawks.
For Chicago, they get two players to maintain a veteran presence. Belinelli had one of his best seasons as a Bull in 2012-13, and Ilyasova has been burning the Bulls since his days as a Milwaukee Buck (13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg career vs. Bulls.) Ilyasova could be an excellent mold for Markannen to devolop into as a stretch four with central European roots. Both Belinelli and Ilyasova’s salaries expire after this season, and the 2nd round pick is even more incentive for Chicago to pull the trigger.
Charlotte: Nikola Mirotic, Cameron Payne, 2018 2nd Round Pick for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Mirotic would be an upgrade for Charlotte over both Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky as a stretch four. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is not panning out for the Hornets, and he would probably hold more value as an asset in a trade. Mirotic could be a shot creator either in the starting line-up or in the bench. He thrived under Tom Thibodeau, and Steve Clifford is a very similar coach. Payne has a lot of potential since being taken in the 2015 lottery, and could pan out as the much needed back-up point guard for Charlotte
Chicago should absolutely take a chance on Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG is a high character player with defensive tenacity that got lost in the transition from Tom Thibodeau to Fred Hoiberg over the past few seasons. Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t wow anyone in the box score, but he is a great building block for a franchise in need of them. With 5.8 win shares last season, he is a winning player a team like Chicago needs.
Miami: Bobby Portis, Quincy Pondexter, Denzel Valentine for Justise Winslow, Wayne Ellington
Miami gets pieces they are missing in a back-up center for Hassan Whiteside with Portis. Jordan Mickey has performed decently, but he does not have the long term upside of the 6’11” Portis. Pondexter and Valentine help the Heat on the wing at the three, and provide length at the wing that Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder are not.
Winslow still has a ton of upside in his third NBA season. Winslow is another player with high defensive upside, and he is only 21 years old. Ellington provides the Bulls with veteran leadership and shooting that Pondexter brings.
Oklahoma City: Bobby Portis for Josh Huestis, 2020 2nd Round Pick
Oklahoma City is in win now mode by every definition of the word. Their quest for playoff success in acquiring Paul George and Carmelo Anthony has depleted their bench some. Adding Portis to back-up Steven Adams at the five would ensure that Oklahoma City would never be threatened by a front court injury again with George, Anthony, Adams, Jerami Grant, Patrick Patterson, and Portis on the roster. Huestis is not a regular rotation player, and would his absence would not be shake the team.
Chicago would flip Portis for a defensive work horse in Huestis, and pick-up a 2nd round pick as well. Huestis could earn a role on the Bulls as a modern-four who can switch on screens defensively, and he can absorb minutes as a three as well.
Utah: Bobby Portis, Paul Zipser, Cameron Payne for Dante Exum
Utah parts ways with Dante Exum in order to get three contributors for a non-contributor. Portis gives Utah a big man with upside and length to back-up injury prone Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. Tony Bradley and Epke Udoh haven’t proven enough this season to ensure their long-term feasibility, and Jonas Jerebko has barely played this season. Zipser provides Utah with three point shooting and youth at a small forward position occupied by 30+ year-olds Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles, and Thabo Sefalosha. Cameron Payne gives Utah skilled option at backup point guard, which has been a problem position for Utah in the Quin-Snyder era.
Dante Exum is another player the Bulls can take on and give an opportunity to. Exum is a high upside player with 6’6″ length at the point, but he hasn’t been given the opportunity to grow to his full potential because of injuries and expectations that come with being the point guard of a playoff team. Exum could develop long term with youngsters like Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and others. It was only three years ago Exum was the 4th overall pick in a highly touted 2014 draft. He still deserves a shot.