LAS VEGAS – In October, Bobby Portis refused an extension of the Bulls worth nearly 50 million dollars, saying he could get more in the open market. He did not sign that kind of long-term deal, but he got his first big deal with the NBA at the opening night of the franchise, signing a $ 31 million, two-year deal with the New York Knicks.
Portis, the Bulls' No. 22 pick in the 2015 draft, has had three and a half seasons in Chicago and has shown promise as a top scorer. He was suspended for eight games at the start of the 2017-18 season for throwing a punch at his teammate of the time, Nikola Mirotic, during a training altercation. Nevertheless, the intensity and "Crazy Eyes" aspect of Portis made it popular with Bulls fans until it was traded to the Wizards in February in the contract expiring that had brought Otto Porter, Jr. to Chicago.
NBC Sports Chicago met Portis at the Summer League to discuss his new deal with the Knicks and his impressions of the Bulls' future prospects.
Q: When did you discover that the Knicks were interested in you?
BOBBY PORTIS: During the year, my agent told me a few things and asked me what I felt about Knick. I thought he was just talking a little bit. But as the summer progressed, things began to rise. I am happy with the situation in which I find myself.
Q: The Knicks were obviously tackling big names like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but it's a young team you belong to. What excites you in this situation?
BP: I think our team knows what we are. We are a group of guys who have always been chosen last. A group of guys who always come out with a chip on our shoulder and play with an underdog mentality. I think our team knows exactly who we are and what our identity is. We will go there and play that way. Obviously, each team wants Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If one of these teams has the opportunity to sign one of these types, it will do so. But the players go where they want when they have no restriction. We are happy to be with this team.
Q: Have you had the chance to watch a lot of [Knicks No. 3 overall pick] R.J. Barrett? What do you think of his game?
BP: I saw him a lot at Duke. Obviously, I watched a lot of Duke basketball with him and Zion [Williamson]. Really fun to watch. He is a very competitive player. He goes out and plays with a benefit. He also looks swaggering. He is very confident in his game. He is going to be a great player.
Q: How long have you known Daniel Gafford? Did you have a relationship before he was drafted by the Bulls, with you two coming from Arkansas?
BP: I was in high school and I had always heard about this kid named Daniel Gafford. They always compared him to me and said he wanted to be like me. He was wearing the same number as me, wearing a headband like me. When I stopped wearing the headband and started to wear the sleeve, he also started wearing the sleeve. He did everything like me. He is an exceptional athlete. I think he showed what he can do last night so that the whole world can see it. He will make a good career.
Q: Did you see a lot of your game in him when you first met him?
BP: Nah. When I first met him, he was just a big bounce and a putback guy. He blocked a lot of shots. He still has the same game that he had at the time. I do not think anyone really knows he would be an NBA player. But this shows his hard work and dedication in his job.
Q: What were your impressions of Tomas Satoransky when you played with him in Washington? How do you think he will fit in with this Bulls team?
BP: I think it fits well with what they want to do. The Boylen coach is a matter of hardness and it's a tough one. It's a competitor. He plays with a benefit. He goes out and plays hard. He defends. He does all the little things that are not in the box. You can count on him every night.
Q: Have you spoken to Boylen since you left the Bulls?
BP: Yes, I spoke to him after being traded. I sent him a text message when he had his extension and I congratulated him. It's really cool to see a coach who is dedicated to his job. He watches tons of movies, goes to the gym early, stays late. It's cool to see a guy from the movie theater become a head coach now.
Q: Do you think people have been wrong during some dramatic episodes of the season after taking office as a head coach, while he seemed to have lost control of the sport? team?
BP: He never lost control of the team. When there is a new authority, it is difficult enough to trust him early. The guys were so used to Fred and how he was, the games he played, the things he'd taught us. This may seem different the first few weeks he came in, and the guys had to adapt to the situation. He had different pieces for which he wanted us to play, so we tried to understand that. It's a lot to eat during the season. It's easy when there are fewer things in the summer and you have time to watch the plays and find the comradeship and chemistry because there were no games. We had to learn things on the fly. We learn a few games and then we have a game the next day and a game in two days. It was difficult at first. But over the course of the season, we all warmed to him. He is a good coach.
Q: With which former teammates of Bulls are you still close?
BP: I talk to these guys everyday. These are some of my best friends. Antonio Blakeney, everyone knows how close we are. And then me and Zach [LaVine] really cool over the years. I'm talking to Wendell [Carter] almost every day. It's like my little brother.