Former Knicks PF Bobby Portis details why he left New York: ‘I just wanted to go to a winning culture’

New York Knicks, Bobby Portis

Understanding just how extravagant the change in culture the New York Knicks experienced this last year is perfectly described by Bobby Portis’s experience with the organization two years ago.

This past season, the Knicks secured the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, led by a new head coach Tom Thibodeau and an excellent defensive squad. While the roster had its fair share of deficiencies, an intense work rate and extra effort bolstered a team of mainly average players. Julius Randle matters to take a mind-blowing step forward in his development, and RJ Barrett became a sufficient complement to the veteran power forward.

With the team moving in a positive direction, Portis’s comments should brew optimism, considering what he endured during his single season in the Big Apple. After his one-year contract expired, the Knicks rejected his player option and offered him a lesser deal, forcing him to look elsewhere for work and an adequate paycheck. Ultimately, he landed with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he revitalized his career and became part of something special.

“The Knicks turned my option down and they offered me another deal, but I didn’t really know if it was going to be a good situation for me,” Portis said.

“The year prior, it wasn’t a good situation for me at all. It just wasn’t a culture I was used to,” he added.

Clearly, the decision for Portis to move on ended up being a good one, as Milwaukee is currently in the NBA Finals, battling to gain a series lead after tying it 2-2 apiece on Wednesday evening.

“I just wanted to go to a winning culture and where I felt like I can fit in with guys,” he said.

With Portis’s contract ready to expire after this season, there is a possibility the Knicks could talk to him as a potential option down low in the paint. Over 66 games this year, the 25-year-old veteran averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and shot 52% from the field. He was even adequate from range, hitting on 47% of his 2.4 attempts per contest.

While it is unlikely Bobby ends up back in New York, his interview shined an obvious light on the change in culture the Knicks have experienced since adding Thibs and Leon Rose. With funds and draft capital available, hopefully, the front office can knock this off-season out of the park, taking another significant step forward in their quest for success.

Ex-Knick Bobby Portis relishes first NBA Finals with Bucks after enduring losing seasons

knicks, bobby portis

Ex-New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis is in his first NBA Finals, and that feeling had only sunk in when the Milwaukee Bucks arrived in Phoenix for the first two games of the series.

“I think yesterday is when it finally hit me,” Portis said following their Tuesday morning shootaround. “After the game on Saturday, I was just so pumped up and so thrilled still that we got the victory and that the series is over, and that we’re moving on to the Finals, I didn’t get a chance to just decompress and just sit down and just think about it. When I got on the plane yesterday and got to the hotel room and I was actually by myself for a change, that’s when it hit me. Yeah, like we’re the Finals now, and it was a big accomplishment.”

“It’s a first for me — first time in the playoffs in four years too — so being able to get a chance to go about each round and compete in every series and get to this point with this amazing group of guys is great.

After the Knicks did not pick up his $15.75-milllion team option last year, Portis took a significant discount for a chance to have a deep run in the playoffs. He signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal to join the Bucks, saying he resisted larger offers from other teams.

That decision paid him huge dividends on the court.

In the last two Milwaukee wins to wrap up the series against Atlanta Hawks, Portis had a pair of big games starting with a playoff career-high 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals in Game 5. He almost had a double-double in the series-clinching Game 6 win (12 points, 9 rebounds).

After his epic Game 5 performance, Portis revealed that the turning point for him was when his one-year stint with the Knicks hit rock bottom.

“The pandemic really drove me to find out about myself,” Portis said.

Portis averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds as one of the ‘too many power forwards’ on a poorly constructed Knicks roster that ended up winning only 21 games.

He said he was hurt not being in the playoffs, watching the Orlando Bubble on TV at home. But he used that as a motivation. He spent the next nine months with his mother while he worked on his game with his eyes set on playing for a contender.

“I finally found peace, man,” Portis said after the Bucks led 3-2 in the series. “I’m at peace with myself and at peace in my life and at peace with everything going on around. I was just always trying to find it again, and really couldn’t find it. But having great teammates and great coaches. And the pandemic, like I said, really helped me find out more about myself more than anything.”

That prepared Portis for the highs and lows of this COVID-19 condensed season. From having DNP in the final three games against the Brooklyn Nets in the second round to emerge as the Bucks’ X-Factor in the Eastern Conference Finals, Portis stayed locked-in for this chance. 

“This moment is special,” Portis said on Tuesday. “Growing up as a kid watching KG [Kevin Garnett] versus Kobe in the Finals, LeBron all those years and things like that, so being able to be a kid from Little Rock, Arkansas, being able to represent myself, my team, this organization, my family, and my state on the biggest stage in basketball is remarkable, man! All the hard work I put in, being able to be in the NBA Finals is a dream come true, and it’s a special moment.”

Portis won’t hear chants of “Bobby! Bobby!” as he had in Milwaukee with the first two games on the road. His starting gig isn’t even guaranteed with Antetokounmpo a game-time decision. But those are the least of his worries.

Portis is ready to bring his high-octane energy that fueled the Bucks, whether he was coming off the bench or starting in place of their franchise player.

“Just stay together knowing that every possession matters, being together, staying in the moment, just trying to burn the motor out. Ain’t no tomorrow. We’ve got seven games to win four, and I’m just trying to blow the motor out and go as hard as I can and get them all,” said Portis of his mindset heading into the Finals.

If he returns to the bench, Portis believes he can still impact the game. As superstars usually cancel out each other on the big stage, role players like him on the bench will be critical.

‘It’s big, man. Obviously, me, Bryn, Jeff and Pat, we’re the catalysts of the second unit. We have to come in and be ourselves and come in and bring some energy to the game, some scoring and things like that. So, I think it’s going to be very vital to help out the starting lineups and things like that,” Portis said.

“[The Suns] do a good job on their end too with Cameron Payne and Saric and those guys. Cam Johnson, as well, coming off the bench and scoring the basketball and bringing some energy to the game.”

Portis’ swing skill isn’t just his shooting that can stretch the floor or his rebounding. It’s his ball of energy that can shift the momentum to the Bucks’ side.

“I think whoever has the most energy and plays with the most effort is going to win these games. That’s what it’s really going to come down to. Obviously, it’s July. Guys have been playing since December, and it was a short offseason last year. I think whoever is the most conditioned, the most well-rounded, and the most energetic team is going to obviously come out victorious.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Report: Knicks could look to bring back Bobby Portis this off-season

knicks, bobby portis

While the Knicks will undoubtedly be connected to various stars during free agency, let’s take a look at a complementary piece that could fit the bill for a team looking to bolster a key position. With the acquisition of Julius Randle several years ago and drafting Obi Toppin, the Knicks turned down the contract option of Bobby Portis last year, a power forward/center.

Portis was projected to earn $15 million for the 2021 season, a lofty price for a player who did not live up to his potential in New York. He ended up signing on a two-year, $7.4 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, but his player option this off-season will likely be declined. Portis had himself a solid campaign, averaging 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and shot .523 from the field, a career-high over 67 games off the bench.

According to Marc Berman of the NY Post, it’s “conceivable” the Knicks could target Portis for the right price in August:

It’s conceivable the Knicks make a play for Portis this August at the right dollars, with Knicks GM Scott Perry still having a voice. Toppin is a work in progress, center Nerlens Noel is a free agent, and the Knicks are completely in win-now mode.

Portis represents a player who simply loves the game, doing whatever it takes to help his team win games.

“It doesn’t matter how many minutes I play, I still try to play as hard I can,” Portis said. “Getting a big rebound or a big play. Just having fun with the game, knowing there is a bigger picture right now.”

The former Knicks was one of the best sixth men off the bench this season, offering adequacy as a short/intermediate-range shooter while also helping in the paint as a big man. At 6’10” and 250 pounds, he has a bit more size compared to options like Nerlens Noel, who weighs 30 pounds less and is just one inch taller. Adding a bit of muscle is a priority for the Knicks, who were simply outmatched physically during the postseason against Atlanta.

While it is rare for New York to bring back former players, complementary pieces come and go all the time, so it shouldn’t be inconceivable to consider Portis as a potential free agent signing at the right price. Considering he only earned $3.6 million last season, scooping him up for $5 million would supplement the money the team spent on Noel this past year.

Knicks open up $40 million cap space, add undrafted rookie Myles Powell

New York Knicks, Myles Powell, Big East, Seton Hall Pirates

The New York Knicks have started cleaning the house to create cap flexibility as they aim to continue reshaping their roster via free agency and trades.

The Knicks have declined the team options of Bobby Portis ($15.7 million) and Theo Pinson ($1.7 million). The team has also waived Taj Gibson ($10.29 million), Elfrid Payton ($8 million), and Wayne Ellington ($8 million).

There’s some mutual interest for Gibson and Portis to return on a new discounted deal, per Ian Begley of SNY.

The Knicks have also not extended a qualifying offer to Damyean Dotson ($2.02 million). They have also waived two-way player Kenny Wooten, Jr., whose spot should go to undrafted rookie Myles Powell of Seton Hall, who will sign with the Knicks as first reported by Adam Zagoria of NJ.com.

Wooten thanked the Knicks on Twitter after learning their decision.

Only Reggie Bullock, who has a value contract of $4.2 million, will be retained.

The series of the Knicks moves were first reported by Marc Berman of The NY Post and Newsday’s Steve Popper.

Big player in Free Agency

All in all, the Knicks have opened up a $40 million cap space as they go into the market as one of the big players when free agency begins on Friday.

The Knicks have 10 players with guaranteed contracts, including their rookies Obi Toppin, selected at No. 8, and Immanuel Quickley, the 25th pick.

The Knicks have maintained their ability to absorb a large contract in anticipation of a possible trade with the Houston Rockets’ disgruntled star point guard Russell Westbrook.

They are also looking at free agents to shore up their young roster with Fred Van Vleet, DJ Augustin, Jeff Teague, Goran Dragic as candidates for the point guard spot.

They have also been linked to Boston’s forward Gordon Hayward and Washington Wizards’ sharpshooter Davis Bertans.

On the Knicks’ radar are big men Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein and defensive specialist Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, all Kenny Payne’s projects in Kentucky.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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

New York Knicks, Bobby Portis

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.

Bobby Portis “unlikely” to return to the New York Knicks next season

New York Knicks, Bobby Portis

The New York Knicks are “unlikely” to pick up Bobby Portis’ team option contract for next season.  This is according to SNYs Ian Begley.  He would be owed $15.75 million for the 2020-21 season.

The 25-year-old is averaging 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the Knicks.  Portis is also shooting 45 percent from the field.

Portis has been serviceable for the Knicks. Fans would like him to be brought back over other players.  But for the price tag it doesn’t make much sense.  Also with the front office, allegedly, being “enamored” with Detroit’s Christian Wood, Portis coming back is doubtful.

Portis has had his moments for the Knicks.  Everyone remembers the “Bobby Portis Game” against the Bulls.

The Knicks were down 18 points. Portis has a game high 28 points leading the charge for the Knicks in the 4th quarter, where he had 11 huge points.  The Garden faithful reigned down chants of “Bobb-y Por-tis!”

As much as fans might want him back, the Knicks need to be smart.  Giving him over $15 million is nuts. He’s a nice role player but not for that price tag.  Maybe if the Knicks can renegotiate that contract, we’d gladly welcome him back.

The team need to prioritize that money better.  It should go to building around RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.  The new New York Knicks front office has plenty of intelligent basketball minds now provide it.

3 players the New York Knicks should look to move on from

New York Knicks, Bobby Portis

The New York Knicks have a couple players with a club option for next season. There are some players that deserve to return and some that don’t. Here’s 3 players that shouldn’t have their option picked up for next season.

Bobby Portis

Portis is still young at 25-years old. He seems a lot older than that.  The biggest issue with him is his contract.  If the Knicks were to pick up his contract it would be $15.75 million.  That’s a lot of money for a guy only playing 21.1 minutes per game.  His stats aren’t great, 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists.  He’s given the Knicks some spark off the bench but it’s never been consistent.  He spends way too much around the arc, looking for 3’s, rather then bang down-low.

The Knicks do need perimeter shooters but not a guy standing at 6’10”.  The Knicks need defense and rebounding, which he barely provides.  If his price tag was lower then bringing Portis back wouldn’t be an issue.  But with how Mitchell Robinson continues to progress it’s better to just cut ties.

Wayne Ellington

While Ellington was brought in for his 3-point shot but just hasn’t panned out.  There were rumors of a possible buyout after the trade deadline but it didn’t happen.  He’s also taking away playing time from younger players.  Daymean Dotson and Alonzo Trier especially saw decreased minutes.

It’s understandable to tryout different lineups since Mike Miller is trying to save his job.  But with what the Knicks are trying to do, rebuild with youth, the 32-year old shooting guard doesn’t fit.  Put that $8 million else where.

Taj Gibson

The 34-year old has played well for the Knicks in the starting lineup but he’s making a lot of money for his age. He’ll receive $9 million next season and turns 35.  However, if the team doesn’t renew his contract they’ll still have to pay him $1 million next season.  Again, the Knicks are looking to go forward with youth and as Robinson progresses, he’ll eventually be the starting center and should be now.

He does provide a good veteran presence for the team and has been one of their better signings.  But the Knicks should explore trades or a buyout.  That time could be used to give the high-flying Kenny Wooten from Westchester a shot.  The New York Knicks should look to renegotiate the contract or let him go.

Knicks’ Veterans: Who will be around next season?

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks roster will have plenty of new faces next season. As they seem destined for a bottom-5 finish, management will need to decide who is an asset and who is expendable. While much has been made of the younger Knicks players and their futures, who among the veterans should be with the team next season?

Elfrid Payton

Elf has been a streaky player for the Knicks. His play has been consistent with the rest of his career to this point. He’s a terrific playmaker who can run an offense, but his shooting ability and inconsistencies make him more suited to be a complementary player, not a team’s starting point guard. That said, Elfrid’s ability to create for others is a valuable asset, and he should remain with the team next season.

Bobby Portis

Portis has been a mainstay in the Knicks’ rotation all season long. Portis can stretch the floor and be an effective rebounder. He also tends to lose focus on offense. A lot of his lousy shot decisions and dribbling around have cost the Knicks numerous possessions throughout the season. Portis is currently the 2nd highest paid Knick at 15.75 million going into next season, expect the team to decline their club option and let Portis walk in free agency.

Taj Gibson

At 35 years old, Gibson is nearing the end of his career. A role player for most of his career, teammates have constantly raved about his leadership. Having a selfless veteran like Gibson has been a nice presence for the Knicks young players, but will he be around next season?

Gibson’s cap hit of 9.45 million next season may seem like too much, but I believe there will be a mutual understanding between Gibson and the Knicks that reduces his playing time but keeps him on the team to remain a leader.

Wayne Ellington

Ellington’s role as a shooter off of the bench has been consistent all season. While he hasn’t been a frequently talked about player, he still carries a 9 million dollar cap hit next season. However, his contract is only guaranteed 1 million before June 28th. I would expect the Knicks to negotiate a buyout or try and allow a team to claim him off of waivers.

Maurice Harkless

Recently acquired from the Clippers, many have enjoyed Moe’s defensive mindset. Harkless will be a free agent this offseason, and it’s hard to imagine the team bringing him back. He will likely command a contract around 10 million per season, and the Knicks would be better suited to allocate his minutes to younger players.

New York Knicks fans can’t stand these two players anymore

There’s no way around it. The New York Knicks have players the fans don’t like.  It’s nothing personal, but their basketball style can be infuriating most of the time.

Julius Randle and Bobby Portis aren’t going to become fan favorites anytime soon.  Both of their play on the court has Knicks Twitter continually being negative about their play.  They ruin the flow of the game, which gives fans grey hair.

Randle has been playing well since Mike Miller took over for David Fizdale.  However, there are plenty of negatives that outweigh the positives.  The biggest qualm Knicks fans have is when he’s ‘feeling it,’ Randle will bring up the ball.  That has to have every single fan screaming at the television.  There’s no reason he should be bringing the ball up.

If that wasn’t the most significant thing, Randle will chuck up 3-pointers at times that are unnecessary and force isolation plays trying to beat him man one-on-one.  While there are plenty of times where he is beasting it, isolation plays aren’t the Knicks’ strong suit.  He’s unbelievably lazy on defense and only seems to exert his energy trying to beat his man offensively.

Portis, on the other hand, is also lazy, most of the time, but doesn’t exert nearly as much energy on offense as Randle.  He loves to play iso-ball as well, but you’ll find him standing around the arc looking to bomb a 3.  He needs to use his big frame to go to work down-low, but instead, he wants to let it fly beyond the arc.  Portis doesn’t bring much to the table and is only taking away time from the young players.

The time Miller is giving to Portis is time that should be used on Kevin Knox.  And as bad as Knox has been this season, Knicks fans would rather see him over Portis.  Give Knox to time to try to regain what little confidence he had last season when there was hope for him as a future NBA player.  If not, Knox belongs in the G-league.

There are reports that the New York Knicks are not expected to buyout veteran players, which absolutely no sense.  The season is over, and the team needs to focus on player development.  They aren’t despite what Miller says.

New York Knicks trade deadline rumors starting to heat up

New York Knicks, Bobby Portis

The New York Knicks have a lot of trade rumors circulating.  For the most part, it appears that the Knicks are willing to trade everyone except RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.

Last night, the Knicks defeated the Cavaliers, 139-134 , to win their second straight game.  However, all the attention was on the players on the trading block.  This was the last game for Mike Miller to showcase the veteran players before the trade deadline.

The deadline is this Thursday at 3pm EST.

NBA Trade Deadline Rumors

D’Angelo Russell

Again, the Knicks have made it clear that everyone is available for a trade except Barrett and Robinson.  The Knicks are linked to D’Angelo Russell.  They’ve, allegedly, offered Bobby Portis, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier and a 2nd second pick.

That is way to much to give up for Russell.  The Warriors didn’t seem to like that package and, allegedly, want Mitchell Robinson added in deal, along with a 1st round pick.  The Knicks should’ve been trying to get the restricted free-agent last summer.  And now, he’s making over 27 million a season.  But, that’s the Knicks for you.  At least, they don’t want to part with their 1st round picks, for now.

Julius Randle 

The Charlotte Hornets have been reported to have interest in Randle.  This comes after the Knicks always seem linked to Malik Monk around the deadline.  ‘Scary’ Terry Rozier has been reported to be in the deal, another point guard to add to the roster.  Rozier is like Randle but at the guard position.

Speaking of point guards, the Knicks have interest in Thunder’s Dennis Schroeder.  The Knicks continue to search for that everyday point guard, which they don’t have.

Marcus Morris and Bobby Portis

The New York Knicks have been trying to get rid of Portis rather than Marcus Morris.  Morris said that he wants to help the young players and be a Knick for the long-term.  However, his trade value has never been higher considering this is his best offensive season.

The Knicks have strong feelings that they would be able to re-sign the free agent Morris this off-season.  However, he’s going to be 31-years old and not getting younger.  The Knicks need to think about how his leadership was this season and consider their options.

With the Knicks off until Thursday night, the team could look very different come 7:30 pm against the Magic.  The Magic have interest in acquiring Dennis Smith Jr., who wants out of New York.  With his strong performance last night, he very well could be on the way.

However, as we all know, this is the Knicks.  There will be all of this noise about trades and nothing will happen or they will do something out of left field that gets fans scratching their heads.