Bulls' Otto Porter Jr. Likely Out For Rest Of Season

Porter will miss his third straight game Saturday with a shoulder strain.

Cody Westerlund
March 23, 2019 - 5:40 pm
Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr.

Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. is likely done for the final nine games of the season as he deals with a right shoulder strain and other nagging injuries.

"It's trending that way," executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said before Chicago hosted Utah on Saturday evening. 

Porter will miss his third straight game Saturday. In addition to the shoulder injury he suffered at Sacramento last Sunday, Porter's neck has also been ailing him at times. News that he may be shut down the rest of the way was in contrast to Porter's expectation of a few days prior, as Wednesday he quizzically responded, "You thought I was going to be out the rest of the season?" when asked about that possibility.

"Otto has so many little things going on that we won't push him," Paxson said. "We may run out of time with him."

Porter is averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 15 games for the Bulls, who acquired him from the Wizards in early February. Coach Jim Boylen was pleased with how well Porter fit in with the Bulls.

"Otto Porter has a poise, a patience, a calmness when he comes on the floor," Boylen said. "He has versatility."

Porter wasn't the only starter the Bulls were to be without Saturday. Shooting guard Zach LaVine was ruled out about an hour before tip-off as he deals with a right thigh contusion and patellar tendinitis in his right knee.

LaVine is averaging a 23.7 points and has played in 63 of the team's 73 games. He also sat out in a win against the Wizards on Wednesday.

At 21-52, the Bulls hold the fourth-worst record in the NBA and are in line to have 12.5 percent odds to land the No. 1 pick. If they descend to become one of the three worst teams, they would have 14-percent odds at the No. 1 pick. With 19 wins entering Saturday, the Cavaliers are the next-closest team to the Bulls in the race to the bottom.

Asked why the Bulls wouldn't just rule Porter and LaVine out for the remainder of the season in an effort to improve their draft lottery positioning, Boylen mounted a defense.

"Because that’s not what we think is going to help this franchise the most," Boylen said. "We’re trying to build a competitive spirit, a team that’s going to honor Bulls across their chest and play for the city. We don’t feel shutting people down is a way to build that. I understand the fans, I understand that part of it. I was in Houston when we got Yao (Ming), so I get it. But we feel for this group of guys that we’re going to keep pushing us to compete and play for each other and honor the principles we’re trying to establish. So that’s it. I know that’s disappointing to some, but that’s what we’re doing."

In other injury news, the Bulls officially ruled out for the remainder of the season their two rookies who have been sidelined for some time. Chandler Hutchison is progressing "really well" as he rehabs from a toe fracture, but he will be shut down.

"It (doesn’t) make any sense to bring him back to try to play at the end of the year," Paxson said.

Hutchison averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 45.9 percent in 44 games as a rookie.

Paxson also confirmed Wendell Carter Jr. won’t return down the stretch, which was the expectation all along. Carter underwent left thumb surgery on Jan. 21. He has recently "amped up" his activity, Paxson said.

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.