Bobby Portis

Scotto’s Latest: Portis, Johnson, Graham, Nets, Batum, More

Within his latest round-up of NBA rumors, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype confirms a number of items that have been previously reported or speculated. According to Scotto, Bucks forward Bobby Portis is widely expected to decline his $4.56MM player option to become a free agent, the Lakers are considered a strong bet to pick up Stanley Johnson‘s $2.35MM team option, and Pelicans guard Devonte’ Graham is available in trade talks.

Scotto’s article includes several other intriguing tidbits related to the draft, free agency, and the trade market. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Nets have fielded trade inquiries on Joe Harris and Cam Thomas, according to Scotto, who says rival executives believe Brooklyn could potentially get a first-round pick in exchange for Thomas. While there’s a sense that Harris might be more available than in previous years due to the Nets’ February acquisition of Seth Curry, the team still believes Harris would be a useful piece on next year’s roster due to his ability to help on the boards and space the floor around Ben Simmons, Scotto writes.
  • The Timberwolves, Grizzlies, and Bucks are among the teams that have inquired about the No. 14 overall pick, currently held by the Cavaliers, league sources tell HoopsHype. Scotto previously reported that Cleveland would be open to the idea of moving down in the draft if it meant acquiring a future first-round pick.
  • Rival executives who spoke to Scotto believe veteran forward Nicolas Batum could be in line for a deal worth $10MM per year after turning down his player option. The Clippers would have the ability to go that high to re-sign Batum using his Early Bird rights.
  • Wake Forest forward Jake LaRavia has visited Milwaukee and worked out for the Bucks twice during the pre-draft process, Scotto reports. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who previously identified LaRavia as a player on Milwaukee’s radar, has him ranked 28th on ESPN’s big board of 2022 prospects. The Bucks hold the 24th overall pick.

Stein’s Latest: Portis, J. Howard, Lakers, Celtics, Hornets

Bucks forward/center Bobby Portis has the ability to become an unrestricted free agent this summer by turning down his $4.56MM player option for 2022/23. However, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack article that some teams with interest in Portis are extremely pessimistic about their chances of luring the veteran out of Milwaukee.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Portis will exercise his player option. Because he has spent the last two seasons with the Bucks, they now hold his Early Bird rights and would be able to offer him a raise if he opts out. There’s an expectation that Portis will sign a multiyear deal with Milwaukee if he declines his option, according to Stein.

Assuming the Bucks use Portis’ Early Bird rights to re-sign him, they’ll have to offer him a deal covering at least two seasons, since Early Bird contracts can’t be for just one year. They can also offer up to 105% of the league-average salary from the previous season — that should result in a maximum starting salary in the vicinity of $11MM.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Based on the rumors circulating in coaching circles, it sounds as if Juwan Howard was the Lakers‘ preferred candidate in their head coaching search, according to Stein. Los Angeles made such “strong overtures” to Howard that it appeared the team preferred him to other long-shot targets like Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers and was willing to offer him the job if he wanted it, Stein adds. Howard wasn’t interested in leaving the University of Michigan, and L.A. ultimately hired Darvin Ham.
  • The Celtics also had strong interest in Howard a year ago after Brad Stevens moved from the sidelines to the front office and before the team hired Ime Udoka, says Stein. The Lakers will be hoping their new hire works out as well as Udoka has in Boston.
  • Stein continues to hear that the Hornets are likely to choose between Mike D’Antoni and Kenny Atkinson as they near the end of their head coaching search. D’Antoni and Atkinson were previously identified as finalists for the job, but it wasn’t clear if they were the only candidates still in play.

Bucks Notes: Middleton, Portis, Connaughton, Matthews

The Bucks‘ defense performed relatively well in their second-round series vs. Boston, holding a Celtics team that led the NBA with a 122.6 offensive rating after the All-Star break to a 108.8 mark in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, Milwaukee’s own offense struggled — the team ranked third in the league with a 114.3 offensive rating in the regular season, but its 99.7 second-round mark ranked last by a wide margin among the eight remaining clubs.

One reason for Milwaukee’s offensive struggles was Khris Middleton‘s absence due to an MCL sprain. The Bucks were left wondering after Sunday’s Game 7 loss whether they’d be the ones advancing to face Miami in the Eastern Finals if their second-leading scorer had been available vs. Boston.

“Obviously, we weren’t trying to make excuses, ‘We don’t have Khris, and oh, it’s going to be tough for us.’ No, no, no,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said on Sunday, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I think everybody went out there and competed, gave everything they had and that’s what we did from Game 3 against Chicago until Game 7 against Boston. But, if we had him, maybe it would have been a different story. But we didn’t.”

“We could’ve used him,” Jrue Holiday said of Middleton. “We definitely could’ve used him. He makes big shots and big plays on both ends, but especially the offensive end. Yeah, we missed him, but we also want him to be OK for the future, too. Yeah, he’s missed.”

Middleton confirmed on Monday that his MCL injury was a Grade 2 sprain and said it will heal on its own in the offseason without any surgical intervention (Twitter links via Eric Nehm of The Athletic and Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Middleton added that he wanted to play in Games 6 and 7 vs. Boston and didn’t experience any setbacks, but team doctors said the risk was too high for him to return so soon (Twitter link via Owczarski).

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Asked about his upcoming player option decision, Bobby Portis spoke at length about how much he has enjoyed his two years in Milwaukee, but deferred to his agent on his contract situation. “That’s on the organization and my agent to figure that out,” Portis said (Twitter link via Nehm). “I don’t really discuss numbers or contracts or none of that. I love it here. I love being a Buck, but it definitely comes down to them making it work.” The Bucks would have Early Bird rights on Portis, who has certainly outplayed his $4.56MM option.
  • In his preview of the Bucks’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) takes a closer look at Portis’ free agency, noting that the Bucks could offer him up to about $22.6MM over two years using the Early Bird exception. Marks also explores potential new contracts for Pat Connaughton, who can reach free agency by turning down his player option, and Middleton, who is extension-eligible.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype previewed the Bucks’ summer too, examining the upcoming free agent and extension decisions facing the team.
  • Veteran wing Wesley Matthews told reporters on Monday that he’ll definitely continue his NBA career and would like be back with the Bucks (Twitter link via Owczarski). The 35-year-old said that he hopes not to have to wait until December to sign his next contract, as he did this past season.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, R. Williams, Isaac, Portis

The Knicks held a free agent mini-camp this week, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog (Twitter link), who says a number of players with NBA experience were in attendance.

Guards Devon Dotson and Chris Clemons, swingman DaQuan Jeffries, forwards Louis King and George King, and big men Alize Johnson and Reggie Perry were among the players who participated in the Knicks’ mini-camp, per Zagoria. John Petty, Craig Randall, Carlik Jones, Aaron Henry, and A.J. Lawson also took part.

The Knicks won’t necessarily sign any of the free agents who attended the mini-camp, but it gave them a chance to see some of the talent that’s out there as they mull possible Summer League and training camp invites.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics big man Robert Williams, who is still listed as questionable for Game 6 on Friday, was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee after colliding with Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 3, head coach Ime Udoka said today. Williams’ injured knee is the same one he had surgery on in March, but that procedure isn’t the cause of his current absence. “There’s no problems with the surgery at all,” Udoka said, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “It’s just that specific hit that he took (in Game 3).”
  • Because of the injury-related language and games-played requirements in Jonathan Isaac‘s contract with the Magic, his $17.4MM annual salaries for the next three years are now partially guaranteed instead of fully guaranteed, as Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. Isaac has missed two straight seasons due to an ACL tear, but there’s no indication that the Magic are considering waiving him, which is the only way they could avoid paying his full salaries.
  • Bobby Portis only shot 4-of-14 from the floor in the Bucks‘ Game 5 win on Wednesday, but he grabbed 15 rebounds and made the sort of crucial hustle plays the team values, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Averaging a double-double (11.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG) so far this postseason, Portis is once again displaying his value ahead of possible free agency. He holds a $4.6MM player option for 2022/23.

Central Notes: Portis, Hill, Hayes, Brogdon

Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen helped the Bucks survive the absence of Khris Middleton in a Game 3 rout of the Bulls, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Portis took Middleton’s spot in the starting lineup and posted 18 points and 16 rebounds as Milwaukee pulled away early. Allen hit five three-pointers on his way to a career playoff high of 22 points.

It was a timely performance for Portis, who will have to decide on a $4.565MM player option that was included in the two-year deal he signed last offseason. Portis was in demand last summer before opting to return to the team that he helped win a championship.

“I just take the shots that are given to me,” Portis said. “I’m a guy that, I don’t really try to go get the game, I let the game come to me. If somebody doubles Giannis (Antetokounmpo) or they build a wall and I’m open, then that’s the shot that you have to shoot for the possession. It’s possession-for-possession in the playoffs, half-court setting, and obviously, teams’ defenses are always going to be built around trying to stop ’34,’ so the guys around him have to be able to open the floor up and knock down shots and space the floor, so just let the game come to us.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard George Hill may miss extended time with an abdominal strain, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Hill hasn’t played since being hurt on April 8, and coach Mike Budenholzer said his condition shouldn’t be considered “day to day.”
  • The Pistons believe second-year guard Killian Hayes could benefit from a summer of pick-up basketball, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. They saw improvement in Hayes’ mental approach to the game this season and want him to experience a setting where he has to win to keep playing. “You guys play pick-up. How hard do you have to play to stay on the court,” coach Dwane Casey asked reporters. “If not, you wait until next, waiting three more games. He’s never had to go through that, and that’s not a knock on him. It’s just something a young man, 18, 19-year-old had to go through. He played on club teams in Europe that practiced three times a day, structured. He hasn’t had a chance to go out and spread his wings and do some of the things he can do.”
  • Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was shut down for the season on March 18 because of back pain, is looking forward to more time playing alongside new backcourt partner Tyrese Haliburton next season, per Wheat Hotchkiss of NBA.com“He’s a great young talent, great young point guard,” Brogdon said. “Super unselfish. He’s the guy you want to play with. He’s the guy that’s going to help you win. I think the fit is great for me, for the organization. I’m excited to play with him.”

Central Notes: Middleton, Ball, Caruso, Sexton

How will the Bucks survive their first-round series against the Bulls without Khris Middleton? Jrue Holiday needs to ramp up his production, Eric Nehm of The Athletic opines. Middleton will be out at least two weeks with an MCL sprain and he’s the only big wing in the rotation, Nehm notes. Coach Mike Budenholzer could go a number of ways with his starting lineup, from Grayson Allen to Pat Connaughton to even Bobby Portis, which would give Milwaukee a jumbo look.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball has already been ruled out for the postseason and there’s still reasons for long-term concern, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Ball has continued to deal with discomfort in his left knee and coach Billy Donovan isn’t sure when he’ll be able to begin an offseason training program. “If it gets to a place where he’s still having discomfort after a longer period of time, I don’t know what the next step would be,” Donovan said.
  • Added last offseason on a four-year, $37MM pact, Alex Caruso is paying big dividends for the Bulls in the playoffs, Sam Smith of the team’s website writes. Caruso’s defense was the underrated reason why Chicago won Game 2 in Milwaukee. “He made a couple of big threes, had a couple of rebounds that were big. … He’s really a great guy because he will not shortcut or rest on the court, so to speak,” Donovan said. “He’s going to give you everything he has. He’s smart, knows what he has to do, is physical defensively for our team and he gives you everything he has.”
  • Multiple sources tell Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the Pistons could make a run at Cavaliers restricted free agent Collin Sexton this summer to pair him up with Cade Cunningham in Detroit’s backcourt. The Pistons could have the most cap space in the league this summer but Fedor is uncertain if anyone will give Sexton an offer sheet that Cleveland wouldn’t match, noting Sexton’s season was a washout after he tore the meniscus in his left knee 11 games into the campaign.

Bucks’ Khris Middleton Out At Least Two Weeks

6:55pm: The team confirmed Wojnarowski’s report in a press release, adding that Middleton will receive daily treatment and evaluation prior to the next status update in approximately two weeks.


5:35pm: Bucks All-Star wing Khris Middleton has an MCL sprain in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the first-round series against the Bulls, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, Wojnarowski adds, and is sidelined indefinitely, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Middleton’s injury could have a major impact on the outcome of the Eastern Conference playoffs and seriously jeopardizes Milwaukee’s chances of defending its crown.

Middleton suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Game 2 on Wednesday and underwent an MRI on Thursday.

“Obviously Khris is one of the best players on the team,” MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo said after the game. “If he’s not able to be with us, it going to be a tremendous loss for us.”

The third-seeded Bucks lost home-court advantage with their Game 2 loss and now must defeat the sixth-seeded Bulls three times without their second-best player in order to advance. Middleton was rather quiet in Game 1, contributing 11 points and eight assists while committing seven turnovers. He had 18 points and eight assists in 33 minutes during Game 2 before he was hurt.

Middleton played a monstrous role in last year’s playoffs, averaging 23.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 5.1 APG during Milwaukee’s 23-game run. Without him, the Bucks will have to squeeze more production out of Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton, while Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday must shoulder even more of the scoring and playmaking burden.

Milwaukee did have some positive news on the injury front. Bobby Portis, who sustained a right eye abrasion in the first quarter of Game 2 and didn’t return, is not on the Game 3 injury report, Jim Owczarski of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.

Bucks’ Middleton, Portis Injured In Game 2 Loss

The Bucks lost two key contributors to injuries over the course of their Game 2 loss to Chicago on Wednesday.

All-Star forward Khris Middleton left in the fourth quarter due to a left knee injury later diagnosed as a sprained MCL, according to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while big man Bobby Portis suffered a right eye abrasion in the first quarter and didn’t return, per an Associated Press report.

Middleton will undergo an MRI on his injured knee on Thursday to further assess the extent of the damage and to get a clearer sense of his potential timeline for a return.

A player’s recovery timetable from a sprained MCL can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but it’s generally measured in weeks rather than just days. Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Kelly Olynyk were among the players who missed more than a month this season due to MCL sprains — the Bucks will be hoping that Middleton’s sprain isn’t as significant.

“Obviously Khris is one of the best players on the team,” MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo said after the game, per Owczarski. “If he’s not able to be with us, it going to be a tremendous loss for us. But at the end of the day, we’ve got guys that hopefully can step up and we can still do our job and compete and enjoy the game, and hopefully it’s not something very serious and he can come back and join us very soon.”

As for Portis, he left the game in the first quarter after taking a hit to the face from Tristan Thompson. Bucks assistant Darvin Ham said during an in-game interview that 27-year-old was “having problems with the vision in his right eye” (video link via Bally Sports Wisconsin). However, head coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game that the expectation is Portis “should be fine with some time,” according to Steve Megargee of The Associated Press.

In other injury news out of Milwaukee, it sounds like backup point guard George Hill, who missed the first two games of the series due to an abdominal strain, won’t be back for Game 3 — Budenholzer told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game that the Bucks “don’t expect him in the short term,” writes Jamal Collier of ESPN.

“We’ll see how he progresses over the next I’d say handful of days or more,” Budenholzer said of Hill.

We’ll wait for further updates on Middleton and Portis to see just how shorthanded the Bucks will be when they resume their series vs. the Bulls on Friday in Chicago, tied at one game apiece.

Central Notes: G. Hill, Lopez, Pacers, Cunningham

Bucks guard George Hill will remain sidelined for Game 2 of the team’s first-round series vs. Chicago on Wednesday due to an abdominal strain, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The injury, which Hill suffered on April 8, also kept him on the sidelines for Game 1 on Sunday.

As Owczarski relays, Bobby Portis (right calf bruise) and Jordan Nwora (back soreness) also showed up on the Bucks’ injury report for Game 2, but both are listed as probable and look like good bets to be active.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Bucks center Brook Lopez was limited to just 13 appearances during the regular season due to a back injury, but he’s healthy at the right time and looks like he has fresh legs, writes Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. The resurgence of Lopez, who scored 18 points in a season-high 32 minutes in Game 1 on Sunday, makes the Bucks more dangerous on both ends of the court and gives them a size advantage vs. Chicago, according to Megargee.
  • In his preview of the Pacers‘ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) observes that the team must decide if it wants to continue rebuilding in 2022/23 or pivot back to competing for the playoffs. That decision will affect whether Indiana decides to retain or shop veterans like Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield, Marks writes.
  • The three players selected immediately after Cade Cunningham in the 2021 draft look like future stars, but Cunningham’s second-half performance on the court and the leadership qualities he displayed off of the court show that the Pistons made the right call with the No. 1 pick, says Rod Beard of The Detroit News (subscriber link).

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Portis, Middleton, Bembry

Reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was recently interviewed by Sam Amick of The Athletic and provided some insight into last year’s championship with the Bucks, this season’s MVP race, and a few other topics. Here are a couple highlights:

On being more focused on winning another championship versus a third MVP:

“Nah, I want another championship. You know, like, the joy that I felt when I won the MVP was unbelievable. I was with my family. I wish my (late) Dad was there. That was an unbelievable feeling. Grateful. But the joy that I felt when I won a championship, there’s no comparing. There’s no comparing (an MVP) to the joy of being on the bus and seeing 200,000 people celebrating — White, Black, Hispanic, or whatever the case may be. Everybody was celebrating, and you’re giving everybody that joy.

“There were people that had never seen a championship for 50 years. (They’d say), ‘The last time I saw the championship, I was two years old.’ You know? That’s a different type of joy. It’s not just me being able to win the award. The whole city won an award. That’s what I want, you know? And hopefully, God can bless me and give me that. I’ll do whatever I can do to do it.”

On playing through a hyperextended knee, which could have been catastrophic:

“It killed me. Game 1, there was a play where Jae Crowder shot and I stepped on his leg. And you know how he does this kick thing, and I literally tried to avoid him and he kicked me on my leg and my leg hyperextended (for the second time — Antetokounmpo hyperextended the same leg in the Eastern Conference Finals against Atlanta).

“What basically happened is that if my leg had hyperextended one more time…(claps hands) I was done. There’s nothing to cut that was in there. It was torn already. It was out — (the piece that) protected me from an MCL or ACL (tear). There’s a thing (in your leg) that protects you when you hyperextend (your knee) that doesn’t let you go all the way back. So that thing was torn. So if I had gone all the way back again, that’d be it for me.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen where people wear a big brace on your knee, like Goran Dragic wears — a big brace. They (the Bucks) told me, ‘Giannis, Tim Duncan wore this (so) wear this.’ I said, ‘Heeeell naw.’ They said, ‘Giannis, you need to wear this.’ And they had made one specifically for me. I said, ‘Hell. No. I’m not wearing that s—.'”

Amick’s full interview with Antetokounmpo can be found here.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • After starting 57 of 63 games this season, Bobby Portis could have griped about being replaced by incumbent center Brook Lopez (recently returned from back surgery), but Portis says he’s fine with coming off the bench. “Right now is not the time for nobody to be talking about minutes or things like that. It’s all about the team. It’s all about trying to win. Be the best Bucks basketball team we can be,” Portis said, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “Eleven games left, just trying to play our best basketball. Like I said, in life, sacrifice is always the biggest thing. Obviously, everybody’s role is going to be shifted a little bit, but that’s part of the plan, part of playing a team sport.”
  • Khris Middleton will miss his second straight game Thursday against Washington due to a sore left wrist, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Middleton fell on the wrist last Saturday against Minnesota and coach Mike Budenholzer said the team hopes it’s a short-term injury.
  • DeAndre’ Bembry underwent successful surgery Wednesday to repair his torn right ACL and MCL, the team announced (via Twitter). Bembry suffered the injury on March 12 and will miss the remainder of the season, and likely most of next season as well.