Bobby Portis

Atlantic Notes: Portis, Durant, Embiid, Lowry

Bobby Portis played for the Knicks during the 2019/20 season and it’s not out of the question he’ll return for a second stint, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Portis is widely expected to decline his $3.8MM player option, which would make him an unrestricted free agent this summer. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Knicks were interested in the Bucks’ power forward, who averaged 11.4 PPG and 7.1 RPG this season. They declined a $15MM option on Portis last offseason but were open to him returning at a reduced price, Berman adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks desperately tried to convince Kevin Durant to join them in free agency and keep him away from the Nets, claims Matt Sullivan’s new book, “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow.” (hat tip to  The Knicks even went so far as to urge Durant’s father Wayne Pratt — a Knicks fan — to intervene and convince his son to play with them. That approach backfired on them, as Sullivan detailed.
  • Joel Embiid’s injury history — the latest being his current knee ailment — could affect extension talks with the Sixers, Derek Bodner of The Athletic notes. Embiid has two years left on his current contract and could sign a four-year extension this summer. If he waits until next summer, he could get a five-year supermax extension if he qualifies — he’d have to make an All-NBA team again next season, win Defensive Player of the Year or MVP to get the supermax. However, with the injuries piling up, Embiid might want to lock into an extension sooner rather than later.
  • The Knicks, Sixers, Heat and Mavericks would seem to be logical destinations for the Raptors’ longtime point guard Kyle Lowry if he leaves Toronto. Eric Koreen of The Athletic takes a closer look at how Lowry would fit onto each of those teams.

Warriors Notes: Milojević, Wiseman, Lottery, Floor Spacers

Dejan Milojević, who coached Mega Basket in Serbia from 2012-20 before joining Budućnost for the 2020/21 season, will join the Warriors‘ staff for the ’21/22 campaign, according to a report from Montenegrin outlet Vijesti. Anthony Slater of The Athletic confirms that the Warriors and Milojević have agreed to terms on a deal, and says an official announcement is expected in the coming days.

As Slater details, Milojević has a good record of developing big men, having most notably coached future NBA MVP Nikola Jokic for three years in Serbia before Jokic arrived stateside. Milojević will take on a player development role with the Warriors and will assume an “important level of responsibility” in the growth of last year’s No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, Slater writes.

Here’s more out of Golden State:

  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Slater examines what’s at stake for the Warriors in next Tuesday’s draft lottery, outlining the best- and worst-case scenarios for the team’s own pick and the Timberwolves’ top-three protected selection. As Slater notes, the worst-case scenario is harder to pinpoint — having the Wolves’ pick slip to eighth, ninth, or even 10th obviously wouldn’t be ideal, but if Minnesota hangs onto it and then takes a major step forward next season (when the pick would be unprotected), that might be even worse.
  • While the return of Klay Thompson will add another three-point threat to the Warriors’ roster next season, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area suggests the team could benefit from adding another floor-spacer and identifies Bobby Portis as a player who should be of interest in free agency.
  • In case you missed it, Warriors forward/center Draymond Green is among the first players to commit to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Heat Notes: Portis, Riley, Free Agents, Butler

A decision not to pursue Bucks big man Bobby Portis in free agency may have led to the Heat’s playoff downfall, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson traces several missteps for Miami, which is in a 3-0 hole against Milwaukee, but the most significant might be passing on Portis, who is averaging 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in the playoff series.

A source tells Jackson that the Heat showed “mild interest” in Portis during free agency, but decided against making an offer. Portis would have considered Miami, Jackson adds, but he wound up signing with Milwaukee for $3.6MM and having a career-best season. The Heat signed Maurice Harkless for the same money, but he played just 11 games and scored 15 total points before being traded to the Kings in March.

Portis figures to be back on the market this summer as an unrestricted free agent and should get much better offers this time.

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat made overtures to Marcus Morris in free agency before he re-signed with the Clippers for $64MM over four years, Jackson adds. They lost two of their own free agents when they refused to come close to the three-year, $30MM deal that Jae Crowder got from the Suns or the two-year, $19MM contract that the Trail Blazers gave Derrick Jones Jr. Instead, Miami split its $9.6MM mid-level exception between Harkless and Avery Bradley, neither of whom is still with the team. The Heat also drafted Precious Achiuwa and gave a two-year, $19MM deal to Meyers Leonard, but Achuiwa dropped out of the rotation when Dewayne Dedmon was added and Leonard played just three games before a season-ending shoulder injury.
  • Team president Pat Riley has a history of making major changes after playoff embarrassments, and Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel suggests that another one may be coming. Winderman notes that the current roster was built for an immediate overhaul, with team options on Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala for next season and Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Andre Iguodala, Victor Oladipo, Trevor Ariza, Nemanja Bjelica, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Udonis Haslem and Dedmon all potentially headed for free agency.
  • Jimmy Butler believes the Heat need to fall back on toughness to salvage the series, writes Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN. “(I’m most surprised by) just how fast it got out of hand,” Butler said after Thursday’s loss. “We’ve got to pick who we want to be — be physical, make things much tougher. Then you’ve got to live with the result.”

Heat Notes: Dedmon, Stephenson, Iguodala, Portis

When the Heat make the anticipated Dewayne Dedmon signing official, his contract will cover the rest of the season rather than just 10 days, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami opted for a longer deal, according to Jackson, because it doesn’t expect anyone better to become available on the buyout market. Players who have appeared in at least one NBA game this season must be waived by Friday to be eligible for the postseason with their new team.

The Heat were looking for a big man who would accept not playing every game, which ruled out DeMarcus Cousins, who has since joined the Clippers on a 10-day deal. Jackson lists Ian Mahinmi, Thon Maker, Dewan Hernandez, Skal Labissiere, Tyler ZellerKyle Alexander, Trey Mourning, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Patton and Anthony Tolliver as some of the names Miami considered before reaching an agreement with Dedmon.

In 2019, Dedmon signed a three-year, $40MM contract with the Kings, but he quickly lost his job as starting center. Poor three-point shooting is a major reason that Sacramento soured on him, Jackson adds, and he was eventually traded to the Hawks and then the Pistons, who released him in November.

The Heat face a deadline to add a 14th player to their roster by Thursday. If Dedmon signs then, his contract will carry a cap hit in the neighborhood of $433K. Miami would be about $314K below the tax line and could add a 15th player later this season without going into luxury tax territory.

There’s more on the Heat, all from Jackson:

  • As Miami considered roster additions, the organization was made aware that Lance Stephenson and Greg Monroe are both hoping to return to the NBA. The Heat got good reports on Stephenson, but they don’t need another wing player and they were looking for more immediate help than Monroe was likely to provide.
  • Some Grizzlies players are still upset about Andre Iguodala‘s decision to remain inactive until Memphis found somewhere to trade him last season. Jackson notes that several Grizzlies felt they had something to prove when they faced Iguodala Monday night.
  • Jackson proposes Bucks forward Bobby Portis as a potential free agent target for Miami this summer. Portis has a $3.8MM player option for next season that he’s expected to decline, and Jackson suggests he could get a $10MM mid-level exception offer as the start of a multiyear deal.

Bucks Notes: Holiday, Portis, Ham

Jrue Holiday‘s contract extension includes $4.1MM in bonuses currently deemed likely and $20.9MM in unlikely bonuses, Eric Nehm of The Athletic reports. The guaranteed salary adds up to roughly $135MM through the 2024/25 season.

The contract includes a player option in the fourth and final season. He received a 20% raise from his $25.1MM base salary this season. From there, the extension gives him an 8% raises on his first-year base salary.

With Holiday locked up along with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, it will be nearly impossible for the Bucks to create cap space to sign significant free agents. Instead, they will have to using cap exceptions and offer minimum contracts, Nehm adds.

We have more on the Bucks:

  • Holiday’s contract will make it nearly impossible to retain Bobby Portis, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. Portis has a $3.8MM option on his contract for next season and is likely to opt out. Milwaukee won’t have access to its full mid-level exception next year and that will remain the case should the front office extend Donte DiVincenzo close to his market rate, Hollinger adds.
  • Holiday already feels like a part of the Bucks’ family and didn’t have to be persuaded to sign the extension, according to an ESPN story“I’m really not the type to be wooed and all that,” he said. “I don’t need to be courted or whatever, but it felt good to be appreciated. It felt good to be wanted.”
  • Darvin Ham had discussions with Texas Tech, his alma mater, about its head coaching position but opted to stay on Milwaukee’s staff, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Ham plans to stay in the NBA and pursue a head coaching job. He was a finalist for the Pacers’ head coaching job last fall and also interviewed for the Clippers’ head coaching position.

Central Notes: Pistons, Karnišovas, Drummond, Portis

In trading away Delon Wright to the Kings (and receiving veteran point guard Cory Joseph and two second-rounders in return), the Pistons have opened up playing time for their still-developing collective of young guards, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit News.

“We like our young pieces and we’re getting guys back healthy here soon, so it’s going to be a lot of opportunities for guys to come out and compete — and that’s what we’re doing; we’re not just rolling the ball out there,” head coach Dwane Casey said of the post-deadline Pistons. “Guys have to do their job on the offensive end and the defensive end develop winning habits.”

The 12-33 Pistons are currently the bottom seed in the Eastern Conference, and in moving on from established veterans like Wright, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin this season, they have clearly exhibited their commitment to developing the youth around star forward Jerami Grant.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bulls team president Artūras Karnišovas discussed Chicago’s very active trade deadline that saw the team add All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and others, and his hopes for the team to become a free agent destination, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “We’re not done (improving the team),” Karnišovas said. “We’re going to keep improving our quality of play. And then keep adding pieces to what this team is going to look like in the future.”
  • Before ultimately agreeing to a buyout with veteran center Andre Drummond, the Cavaliers talked to the Mavericks and Raptors about potential trades for the former two-time All-Star’s expiring $28.7MM contract, according to Chris Fedor of The Cavs were ultimately unable to find a deal that made sense.
  • Bucks reserve big man Bobby Portis has been sidelined since Milwaukee’s game Friday against the Celtics as a result of the league’s COVID-19 protocols, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Central Notes: Satoransky, P. Williams, Portis, Love

Billy Donovan isn’t ready to change his starting point guard, but the Bulls coach expects more playing time for Tomas Satoransky now that he has returned from his second COVID-19 experience, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Satoransky was sidelined earlier in the season due to contact tracing, then tested positive for the virus later. Saturday marked his fifth game back, and his playing time has been gradually increasing.

“I think he’s getting his legs back under him, he’s trying to find himself, but each game I think he’s out there playing I think he’ll be more and more comfortable,’’ Donovan said.

There might be temptation to move Satoransky into the starting lineup in place of Coby White, who’s shooting 40% from the field and struggling as a lead guard, but Donovan remains committed to developing White as the long-term answer at point guard.

“Is it a situation where maybe you bring Sato in a little bit earlier? You stagger those guys? But I’m not at a point where I just say, ‘Hey, listen we’re done with him.’ I wouldn’t do that. I think he’s too important to our team,” Donovan said. “He does compete, I trust him in that area. I just think he’s a guy that’s 20 years old, and there’s going to be some of these moments where he’s going to be up and down.’’

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls drafted Patrick Williams for his defensive prowess, but injuries may force them to rely on him for more scoring, notes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Williams is one of seven rookies in a regular starting role, but he’s only ninth on the team at 29.7 touches per game. “They just say whatever I do, be confident in it 100%,” Williams said. “They have confidence in me in whatever I decide to do, whether it’s drive or shoot. Just whatever I do, be 100% confident and don’t be in the middle.”
  • Bobby Portis is excelling with the Bucks’ second unit, writes Spencer Davies of Basketball News. Portis, who signed as a free agent during the offseason, enjoys changing the atmosphere of a game. “I think the last three, four years of my career, I’ve kinda found the niche of coming in and bringing energy off the bench,” he said. “Just knowing if the game’s up and down or if our team needs energy, being that sparkplug that the team needs.”
  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who has been limited to two games this season because of a calf injury, went through a pre-game workout Saturday for the first time in more than a month, writes Chris Fedor of No date has been set for him to return.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Central Division:

Wayne Ellington, Pistons, 33, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

What has gotten into Ellington? Signed to add some depth at the shooting guard spot, Ellington has emerged as a starter and is on the hottest 3-point roll of his career. He’s knocked down at least four long balls and scored at least 16 points in each of the last seven games. Overall, he’s averaging a career-best 13.4 PPG in 24.2 MPG while making 53.2% of his 3-point attempts. Obviously, he’s not going to sustain this pace but at the least, Ellington has shown he can still help a team with his perimeter shooting.

Andre Drummond, Cavaliers, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $127.2MM deal in 2016

Sometimes people tend to dwell on a player’s shortcomings and forget about the positives. The Pistons basically gave away Drummond to a division rival last February to clear cap space. Yes, he can’t shoot from outside and he’s brutal at the foul line but what’s so bad about having the best rebounder on the planet on your side? Drummond is averaging a career-high 18.9 PPG with the aid of two young guards breaking down defenses. With the addition of Jarrett Allen, he’s probably not in the Cavs’ long-term plans. He’s not a max player but Drummond is still one of the league’s top big men and he’ll get a strong multi-year contract despite his flaws.

Tomas Satoransky, Bulls, 29, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $30MM deal in 2019

Chicago has an interesting dilemma with Satoransky following the season if it’s unable to move him in a trade. His $10MM salary for next season is 50% guaranteed. The Bulls would have to eat $5MM in dead money to cut him loose but Satoransky’s status with the organization has fallen. He was once viewed as its potential solution at point guard. Right now, he’s struggling just to stay in the rotation. If he winds up in the free agent market, Satornasky won’t be viewed as more than a second-unit option.

Bobby Portis, Bucks, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $7.4MM deal in 2020

Portis has a $3.8MM player option on his contract for next season. The way he’s playing, he’ll certainly decline it and take his chances on the free agent market. Portis has been a solid addition for a title contender, establishing himself as the team’s sixth man. He’s averaging 10.9 PPG and is second on the team in rebounding (7.7 RPG), while his PER ranks third on the team. Portis’ offensive production has dipped some in the last two weeks but he still had a 21-point outing against Atlanta on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks GM Horst Talks Roster, Giannis, Connaughton, More

The Bucks fell short of the NBA Finals in each of the last two postseasons after putting up the NBA’s best regular season record in each of those two years. However, general manager Jon Horst tells Eric Nehm of The Athletic that he believes the club is “young in its evolution of championship contention,” and that the current Bucks roster is its strongest yet.

“I think that this is the best roster that we’ve had in the last three years,” Horst said. “I have a ton of confidence in the work that our coaches have spent on improving our offensive and defensive systems and our style of play and just the way that that they’re going to approach the season and the way that we’re going to work. And then the work that our players did.

“… If you really peel back, how do you get better? I think you get better coaching, player internal development, and from a front office perspective, you improve the roster. I think we’ve checked all those boxes, and I feel confident about those things. The work that’s been put into all those areas and the results in all those areas. That’s why I feel good about this team and that we’re better than last season.”

In his conversation with Nehm, Horst discussed a wide ranging of topics, including his thoughts on all the veteran players Milwaukee added to its roster in free agency or via trade this offseason.

The discussion is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber, but here are a few more notable comments from the Bucks’ GM:

On what Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to sign an extension with the Bucks says about the organization:

“I think it shows mostly a lot about Giannis and his desire to win and to be part of a culture where winning is first and foremost, and where the resources are going to be provided to you to win and continue to push the envelope and be in a position, year in and year out, to compete at the highest level. But to do it in a family environment, in a healthy environment, where people want to come to work every day and enjoy what they do every day. And for us, the goal from day one has been to create that environment, create that culture, and not just do that, but also to win at a high level. And we haven’t reached the ultimate goal yet, but I think we constantly improve and get better and push toward being great.”

On the NBA’s investigation into the Bucks’ pursuit of Bogdan Bogdanovic, which cost the team its 2022 second-round pick:

“We were fully cooperative with the NBA, very open and transparent. And a decision was made and we’re moving forward from that. We’re excited about the season. I think that at different points in your life or different points in your career, things happen and you’re only as good or as bad as how you respond. And we chose to be very cooperative, forthcoming, transparent and tried to work with the league to come up with the best result. The takeaway is that, be honest and helpful and deal with the result and move on and be better. … It’s not a lesson, but it’s a takeaway.”

On the Bucks’ decision not to sign a true backup center to replace Robin Lopez:

“It’s more a bet that we’re going to be more versatile and more equipped to play against teams that constantly go small. And so really our backup fives are Bobby (Portis), D.J. (Wilson), and Giannis, right? All of which also play the four very well. So we have options and versatility.

“… This season, I think we’re intentionally trying to push our money to the front and be a little bit riskier on the back end. And if we have to adjust and pivot, we’ll figure out a way to do it. Of course, we are always a little nervous, but I’ll tell you, I think our roster fits the NBA and the way teams are going to play us better this season than it ever has before.”

On the perception that the Bucks made a mistake by agreeing to a two-year deal with Pat Connaughton that would have violated CBA rules before amending it to a three-year deal:

“I’m sure it’s a more interesting read to write the story that we don’t know what we’re doing… We know what we’re doing. Maybe (it’s) not as interesting to say a deal wasn’t done, (that) negotiations and discussions are still evolving. We’ve done some complex things in the last few years and got it done and figured it out. We were negotiating and trying to figure out a deal that would work for Pat and us.

“… Frankly, I was surprised by a lot of stuff that was written in the process of negotiating a deal with Pat. There’s not a better answer than that. Again, you’re just trying to figure it out, like you’re literally going through real time. If people want to report stuff in real time as fact and final, that’s fine.”

Bucks Sign Bobby Portis

NOVEMBER 25: The Bucks have signed Portis, according to the NBA’s official log of transactions.

NOVEMBER 21:: Free agent big man Bobby Portis has reached an agreement to sign with the Bucks, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll get a two-year contract with a second-year player option, Charania adds (via Twitter).

The Bucks are signing Portis using their bi-annual exception, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. That will mean a $3.6MM first-year salary with a $3.8MM option for 2021/22.

The Knicks declined an option on Portis earlier this week to make him a free agent. New York reportedly had an interest in re-signing the center but instead, he heads to the Eastern Conference powerhouse Bucks.

Portis, 25, appeared in 66 games (five starts) for the Knicks last season, averaging 10.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG. The Arkansas native spent his first three-and-a-half seasons in the Windy City with the Bulls before he was shipped to the Wizards in February 2019.

With Milwaukee, Portis and his 6’10’, 250-pound frame will get major minutes backing up the big man duo of reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.