The Bulls opted to trade the red-hot Mirotic to the Pelicans on Feb. 1, opening a door for Portis for more playing time while continuing to develop Markkanen.
So with the regular season over, who performed better? And did the Bulls make the right decision?
Portis blossomed in his third NBA season, averaging 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds while hitting a career-best 36 percent from deep. He actually posted some of his best numbers with Mirotic, but he also had a strong February in which he averaged 16. points (on 39 percent from deep) and 7.6 rebounds. Hoiberg opted to keep Portis on the bench for all but four games, instead starting the combination of Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez/Cris Felicio. But the Bulls were at their best when Portis was on the floor, +7.9 points per 100 possessions better.
Mirotic was traded, ironically, because he was playing so well. The Bulls sold high on a player averaging 16.8 points per game and hitting nearly 43 percent of his 3-pointers. Mirotic didn't match that production in New Orleans, struggling from deep but picking up his play during the Pelicans' 10-game winning streak (16.8 points) and their five-game winning streak to end the year (25.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 56.3% FG).
The Bulls received a coveted first-round pick, while the Pelicans made the postseason and will get Mirotic for next season at $12.5 million; the Pelicans agreed to pick up the second year of Mirotic's contract as part of the trade.
Portis' team option was picked up despite the seven-game suspension he received for punching Mirotic, and he'll be a restricted free agent after the 2019 season.