LITTLE ROCK — Former Arkansas Razorbacks star and NBA big man Bobby Portis was barely a free agent (for only a day) before agreeing to his third contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in as many years, this time for a longer term as part of a more lucrative deal at 4 years totaling $49 million, according Thursday reporting by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The deal includes a player option in year four. Portis had just declined his second-year, $4.6 million player option with the Bucks on Wednesday, which briefly made him a free agent.
Portis (6-10 forward / center, Little Rock native) took to Twitter on Thursday to post a video-recorded message to fans: https://twitter.com/BPortistime/status/1542638794679140353?s=20&t=5eqZPy5qQ172LqaX0TcRyw
Portis has been a fan favorite and a key cog the last two seasons playing in Milwaukee as he’s been fourth on the team in scoring average and second in rebounding while being one of the league’s most efficient volume three-point shooters.
Fitting in nicely with the Bucks’ big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, Portis helped the Bucks to the franchise’s first NBA championship in 50 years in 2020-21, and with injuries to starting center Brook Lopez in the regular season and Middleton in the postseason, Portis stepped up and increased his production in ’21-22 including averaging a double-double (10.6 points and 10.0 rebounds) in 12 playoff games during a postseason run that ended for the Bucks with a 4-3 series loss against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In Game 5 of the Boston series, Portis fought for an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and went glass for the a go-ahead bucket in the closing seconds — it was Milwaukee’s first lead of the second half — as the Bucks would hold on for the road win to take a 3-2 series lead at the time.
Despite wielding greater earning potential this offseason, Portis stuck with the same negotiation playbook that in the past led to him repeatedly admitting that he was following his heart to first join and then remain with the Bucks when working out his previous two, two-year contracts with the club. With a likely per-year market value ranging from $15 to $20 million, Portis once again opted for the city and organization that has embraced him both on and off the court.
But this time he returns to Milwaukee with more security at a bigger price tag than he’s ever had in his previous deals, which started him out in Chicago as a rookie after the Bulls drafted him No. 22 overall in the first round in 2015 before Portis spent short stints with both the Washington Wizards (back end of the ’17-18 season after spending three-plus campaigns with the Bulls) and New York Knicks (only the ’19-20 season) prior to landing in Milwaukee for the ’20-21 season.
During the ’21-22 campaign in Milwaukee, Portis started 59 of the 72 games he played in and established single-season career highs in points (1,052), rebounds (657), steals (53), and blocked shots (51) while his per-game averages of 14.6 points (fourth on the team), 9.1 rebounds (ranked 23rd in the league), and 28.2 minutes also set new career-high water marks.
His move back to a sixth man role late in the season once Lopez returned from a back injury initially affected Portis’ shooting efficiency and scoring volume, but as the calendar turned the page to April he successfully made the adjustment playing off the bench as he once again proved to be an integral and invaluable piece to the Bucks’ pursuit of a title repeat. In Milwaukee’s final five regular-season games played after April 1, Portis averaged 16.0 points and 9.4 rebounds off the bench to help Milwaukee go 3-2 in that stretch.
He finished the ’21-22 campaign as 1 of only 3 NBA players to average double-figure scoring and at least 8.0 rebounds per game while shooting 39.0% or better from 3, and he was the only NBA player to achieve that combination of production and efficiency while playing fewer than 30 minutes per game.
Portis had 24 double-doubles and 15 games of scoring 20-or-more points in ’21-22, including twice hitting his season high of 30 points.
Spanning his 7-year NBA career, Portis has played in 453 regular-season games, averaging 11.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 21.7 minutes while shooting 47.0% from the field, including 38.3% from 3, and 75.2% from the free throw line.
As a sophomore in his final season at Arkansas in ’14-15, Portis led the Hogs to 27 wins and a final national Top 20 ranking while earning SEC Player of the Year honors as well as Associated Press second team All American recognition.
During his high school career at storied Little Rock Hall, Portis helped the Warriors to multiple state titles and as a senior was a national Top 20-ranked / 5-star prospect who was named to the prestigious McDonald’s All American team.