By Margaret Dolan
The Wizards late last night unofficially raised the white flag on the 2018-19 season:
They traded forward Otto Porter Jr. to the Chicago Bulls for forwards Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker and a protected 2023 second-round draft pick.
Porter, 25, is averaging 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists this season. He is making $26 million this season and is owed $27.25 million next season, with a player option for 2020-21.
Portis will become a restricted free agent this summer.
The Bulls have been trying to trade Parker, who has a team option for next season worth $20 million.
Portis and Parker left Chicago’s United Center shortly before the Bulls tipped off against the Pelicans last night.
Several Bulls players said they were sad to see Portis and Parker go. Bulls guard Zach LaVine called Parker “the main glue of the team, a big-time voice.”
“It sucks. He’s one of my best friends on the team,” LaVine said. “Jabari and me talk all the time. It sucks he didn’t get the way he wanted to come here. A Chicago kid, I don’t think he got the fair end of the stick on that one. It’s the NBA, man.”
“Those two are great players, and they’re gonna go out there, and they’re going to be ready. Y’all know how I feel when I play against Minnesota,” said LaVine, who began his career with the Timberwolves. “They’re going to feel the same way playing against us.”
News of the trade reached the Wizards’ locker room about a half-hour before the team’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“It was a little weird,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. “But you have to be a professional about everything. Decisions are made. People come and go. It’s unfortunate. Otto was a part of the franchise for a long time. All we can do is continue to move on.”
The trade comes one day after the Wizards announced that star point guard John Wall, already out for the season with a left heel injury, will miss most — if not all — of next season because he needs surgery on his left Achilles tendon.
“It has been a heckuva week, I can tell you that,” center Thomas Bryantsaid. “Dealing with injuries, guys getting traded. We just have to stick together. No one is going to feel sorry for us. We got to get out and fight through this each and every game.”
Also yesterday, the Wizards traded forward Markieff Morris to the New Orleans Pelicans for forward Wesley Johnson, the teams announced.
Washington’s two trades will provide significant financial savings, moving the team $232,000 below the luxury tax threshold. Since the start of the season, the Wizards have saved $18.3 million toward the luxury tax.
Parker’s $20 million team option needs to be exercised by June 29. Portis is on an expiring contract, and the Wizards will have until the end of June to submit a $3.6 million qualifying offer.
Beal said he is confident Porter will acclimate to his new team quickly.
“I know what he is capable of doing,” Beal said. “He has the ability to go lead a young team now. I know he will do well there. We will welcome Bobby, and we got Jabari, too, right? So we will welcome both of them and keep moving forward.”
Last night’s 148-129 loss to the Bucks dropped Washington to 22-32, four games behind the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
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