New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis on the Utah Jazz’s radar

New York Knicks, Bobby Portis
Jan 26, 2020; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis (1) reacts after scoring against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks sweet-shooting forward Bobby Portis has a better chance of landing in Utah next season than Julius Randle according to Jazz insider Ben Anderson of KSL Sports.

The Knicks fanbase had been rocked by a rumored swap between two CAA clients Randle and Conley last week but it appears the Jazz are more interested in the other Knicks forward.

“I haven’t heard anything like that (Randle-Conley trade rumor) here.  It’s far more likely the Jazz would chase Bobby Portis if he becomes a free agent,” Anderson told Empire Sports Media.

Last summer, the Knicks have outbid the Jazz and several playoff teams for Portis, who was fresh from his most productive season in the NBA back then.  Portis was one of the four big men signed by the Knicks after getting spurned by marquee free agents led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Portis, who signed a $31-million two-year offer sheet, didn’t pan out in New York with sporadic playing time under two different coaches.  In 66 games this season, Portis averaged 10 points, five rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 21 minutes while shooting 36 percent from deep.

The Jazz have indicated last week that they will be targeting athletic floor-spacers.

“Anybody who could obviously have defensive integrity at their position, can be an active, athletic defender will be someone that would interest to us, especially if they don’t compromise the spacing,” Utah Jazz VP Dennis Lindsey told reporters via Zoom.

And Portis fits the bill.

With a team option of $15.75 million, the Knicks have to decide whether to bring Portis back or waive him.  The new Knicks coaching staff led by Tom Thibodeau and his associate head coach Johnnie Bryant, who came from the Jazz, will have time to evaluate Portis during the team’s three-week mini-camp in their Tarrytown practice facility beginning today.

When asked if the Jazz will be interested in moving Conley’s contract for Randle and Portis, Anderson replied with a resounding no.

If the Knicks decide to waive the 25-year old Portis, the Jazz can use their mid-level exception which is currently pegged to start at $9.7 million but could end up lower due to the revenue loss as a result of the pandemic.  The Jazz also has its bi-annual exception of $3.8 million which again could become lower pending the new salary cap.

The Jazz insider added that “nothing is concrete (with regards to plans of trading Conley) but the Jazz will always listen to offers.”

It is more likely that the Jazz will be looking to run it back with a healthy Bojan Bogdanovic next season and hopes to re-sign unrestricted free agent Jordan Clarkson and fill out their roster using their salary-cap exceptions.

The Jazz have given up two first-round picks along with Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and Grayson Allen for Conley last summer. Unless they can get a first-round pick back and a veteran who can move the needle, Conley will not go anywhere.