LAS VEGAS – In October, Bobby Portis rejected a $ 50 million Bulls extension because he believed he could do more in the open market. He did not get such a long-term deal, but he got his first big NBA deal on the opening night of the freelance agency and signed a two-year $ 31 million deal with the New York Knicks.
Portis, the No. 22 Bulls in the 2015 Draft, had three and a half seasons in Chicago and proved to be a promising scorer. He was suspended at the beginning of the 2017/18 season for eight games because he had beaten in training against his former teammate Nikola Mirotic. Nonetheless, Portis' intensity and his trademarked "Crazy Eyes" look made him popular with Bulls fans until he joined the Wizards in February as part of the deadline deal that brought Otto Porter Jr. to Chicago.
NBC Sports Chicago caught up with Portis in the Summer League to discuss his new deal with the Knicks and his impressions of the bulls' future prospects.
Q: When did you first find out that the Knicks were interested in you?
BOBBY PORTIS: During the year, my agent told me a few things about it and asked me how I would feel as a kink. I thought he just talks a bit. But then, as summer progressed, things went uphill. I am happy about the situation in which I am.
Q: The Knicks have obviously followed the big names like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but this is a young team you join. What attracts you to this situation?
BP: I think our team knows what we are. We are a group of people who always chose last. A group of people who are always out there with a chip on their shoulders and playing with an underdog mentality. I think our team knows exactly who we are and what our identity is, and we'll go out there and play that way. Of course, every team wants Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If one of these teams has a chance to sign on one of these guys, it will. But players go where they want, when they have no restrictions. We are glad that we are together with this team.
Q: Got the chance to see much of [Knicks No. 3 overall pick] R.J. Barrett? What do you think of his game?
BP: I've often seen him at Duke's. Obviously I saw a lot of Duke basketball with him and Zion [Williamson]. Really entertaining. He is a highly competitive player. He goes out and plays with an edge. He also has bragging rights. He is very confident in his game. He will be a great player.
Q: Since when do you know Daniel Gafford? Did you have a relationship before he was drafted by the cops, and you were both from Arkansas?
BP: I was in high school and have always heard of this boy named Daniel Gafford. They always compared him to me and said he wanted to be like me. He wore the same number as me, wearing a headband like mine. When I stopped wearing my headband and started wearing my sleeve, he also started to wear his sleeve. He did everything like me. He is a crazy athlete. I think he showed what he can do last night for the whole world to see. He will have a good career.
Q: Did you see much of your game in him when you first met him?
BP: No. When I met him for the first time, he was just a big rebounder and a putback guy. He blocked many shots. He still has the same game as he did then. I do not think anyone really knew he would be an NBA player. But that's proof of his hard work and how much he dedicates himself to his craft.
Q: What were your impressions of Tomas Satoransky when you played with him in Washington? How does he fit in with this Bulls team?
BP: I think he fits exactly what they want to do. Coach Boylen is all about tenacity and he's a tough guy. He is a competitor. He plays with an edge. He goes out and plays hard. He defends. He does all those little things that are not on the box. You can count on him every night.
Q: Have you talked to Boylen since you left the cops?
BP: Yes, I talked to him after I got it acted. I wrote him a text message when he got his extension and congratulated him. It's really cool to see a coach dedicated to his craft. He watches tons of films, goes to the gym early, stays up late. It's cool to see someone coming out of the movie room to become head coach now.
Q: Do you think people mistaken him during part of the drama this season after assuming the lead? Coach when it seemed like he had lost control of the team?
BP : He has never lost control of the team. If there is a new authority, it is difficult to trust him early. The boys were so used to Fred and how he was, the pieces he ran, the things he taught us. So it may look different for the first few weeks he arrived, and the boys had to get used to it. He had different pieces to play, so we tried to find out. Much has to be recorded during the season. It's easy when there's less going on in the summer and you have time to go through the plays and find the camaraderie and chemistry because there were no games. We had to learn quickly. We learn a few games and then we have a game the next day and a game in two days. It was hard early. But during the season we all warmed up for him. He is a good coach.
Q: Which of your old Bulls teammates are you still in close relationship with?
BP: I speak to these people everyday. These are some of my best friends. Antonio Blakeney, everyone knows how close we are. And then I and Zach [LaVine] became really cool over the years. I speak with Wendell almost every day [Carter]. It's like my little brother.