Otto Porter Jr. settles into Bulls' reserve role as Patrick Williams ascends

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K.C. Johnson
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Bulls' forward thinking places Porter in reserve role originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

A promotion also involves a demotion.

At least for now, Patrick Williams’ rise to starting small forward has moved Otto Porter Jr. to a reserve role. The veteran played well in that role in a mostly disastrous season-opening blowout loss to the Hawks, tallying 14 points, five rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes.

I’m here to do my job,” Porter said. “Whatever that (entails), I’m going to go do it the best I can do.”

Porter is in the final season of his monster deal that the Wizards matched when the Nets signed him to a four-year, $106.5 million offer sheet in 2017. Porter, who has battled injuries since arriving to the Bulls, won’t see that annual salary figure again.

However, he’s still in a contract year. And that’s why coach Billy Donovan has praised Porter’s role acceptance.

I’ve been in this role before, so it’s nothing new to me,” Porter said. “It’s just a mindset type of thing.”

Over his seven-year career, Porter has started 295 of 414 games. Donovan has talked about keeping Porter healthy as one of the critical components to this season. Along those lines, Donovan has cited the need to slowly ramp up Porter’s minutes.

“That’s something that we have to discuss with our trainers because they’re monitoring that and they know what’s best for me and my body and my situation,” Porter said.

There’s no guarantee that Porter, who played in just 14 games last season as he dealt with a broken bone in his foot, will remain in a reserve role. But with Williams representing the Bulls’ future, Porter might also have to get used to his new situation.

Williams has appreciated Porter’s acceptance and advice.

He's been tremendous,” the rookie said. “Otto is not really a super vocal guy. He talks when he needs to and when he does, everybody listens. He does a great job of leading by example. He's a vet. He's been in this league awhile, so I've just been relying on him on the court and off the court whether its rehab or things he sees. Just picking his brain any chance I get.

“He's been a focal piece to my transition being as good as it has been so far. So huge credit to him.”