It’s time Otto Porter earns that money, and other keys for Bulls camp

With no battles for a spot in the starting lineup to really be had, the start of Bulls camp on Tuesday would seemingly have little intrigue. Not so, as all eyes remain on the likes of Porter and Lauri Markkanen to start answering some serious questions. There are no training camp battles to look forward to.
At least none that impact the Bulls starting lineup.
That was made very clear when the front office felt good about letting Kris Dunn walk into free agency, all but handing Coby White the keys to the lead-guard car, dents in his game and all.
Not that the defensive-minded Dunn was going to beat White out, especially considering he couldn’t last season, but the competition would have been intriguing.
Instead, White can feel pretty solid about continuing to show what he did in the September mini-camp, working with the first teamers, and more importantly, continuing to ease minds that he has improved on his ability to run an offense.
Veteran Tomas Satoransky, who was the starter at the point when the 2019-20 season tipped off, will see minutes off the bench behind White, but has just two more years on his contract and could be an expendable trade piece at some point this season.
That leaves White battling White.
Basically, the same that can be said for the entire starting lineup.
There’s absolutely no threat for Zach LaVine at the other starting guard spot, a healthy Otto Porter Jr. is the best small forward on the team, Lauri Markkanen is a must start at the four as he has high expectations in the eyes of the new regime, and Wendell Carter Jr. is highly regarded in the middle – draft-day trade rumors and all.
When camp officially starts on Tuesday, this isn’t about which five will start. This is about playing time off the bench and which five will finish games.
Here are the three keys for training camp:

1. Stock building – Porter will be the highest-paid player on the roster, and not by a little. In opting in for $28.4 million, Porter also becomes a trade chip that could be played at some point this season.
A veteran with an expiring contract, and one that has the talent to be a perfect glue guy on a playoff team? That could carry some weight, and possibly a future asset in a package. But that only holds true if Porter not only shows up to camp healthy, but is performing at a high level.
The Bulls drafted Patrick Williams fourth overall because he represents the future for them. Porter is the present, as the 19-year-old Williams learns the ropes minus a Summer League and months to workout with his new teammates.
If Porter can be the player the Bulls thought he would be when they acquired him back in the 2018-19 season, well, everyone wins.

2. Forward thinking – All eyes will be on Markkanen. All eyes should be on Markkanen. The No. 7 overall pick from the 2017 draft is not only eligible for a contract extension, but still has the highest talent ceiling on this roster.
What the new coaching staff needs to do is not only get Markkanen to play to that talent level, but start emerging as a star big man in the East if they have any hopes of having a ready-made elite player developed in-house.
If Markkanen can make that leap, and be the guy he was in February of 2019 when he averaged 26 points and 12.2 rebounds per game for the month, the Bulls enter the 2021 offseason with a lot more to sell to elite free agents.

3. Billy ball – With Billy Donovan now in the head coaching chair, the Bulls actually have an adult in that room. He comes with a resume from both Oklahoma City and his National Championship runs at Florida, and has a history of getting the most out of players.
More importantly, excuse time is over for these players. The right coach is in place. It’s sink or swim, and the water wings come off Tuesday.

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