The New York Knicks didn’t last long in the NBA playoffs, suffering a gentleman’s sweep in their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, but they’ve been well represented by former players all postseason.
And now they’re represented in the NBA Finals too, with forward Bobby Portis playing a role on the Milwaukee Bucks.
Fans will no doubt remember the former 22nd overall pick, who spent time with the Bulls and Wizards before coming to New York last season on a two-year deal.
He averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season before the Knicks declined his $15.7 million team option.
But maybe it wasn’t all that simple, his exit from New York.
Portis shared details with The Athletic’s Shams Charania, in a recent conversation and posted column.
What he told the insider may surprise you.
Knicks Tried to Bring Portis Back
Following the Milwaukee Bucks’ Game Three win over the Phoenix Suns, The Athletic’s Shams Charania posted his conversation with Bobby Portis, who scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Finals series win.
When asked about his departure from the New York Knicks, the 26-year old confirmed a longtime rumor.
Portis says after declining his option, the team offered him a new deal:
The Knicks turned my option down and they offered me another deal, but I didn’t really know if it was going to be a good situation for me. The year prior, it wasn’t a good situation for me at all. It just wasn’t a culture I was used to.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the Knicks did the same with both Elfrid Payton and eventually Taj Gibson.
Portis wasn’t a $15-million player last season (and he still may not be), but they still saw value in bringing him back.
In regards to his comments about the culture, or lack thereof, that seems a shade shy of gaslighting.
Portis was a part of a tumultuous Bulls crew (where he ended up punching one of his teammates) for three and a half years, and with the Wizards for half of a losing season before coming to New York.
Regardless, it’s hard not to look at his play in the Finals and wonder what could’ve been for the Knicks, particularly given the poor nature of their play in the first round of this same postseason.
Would Portis have helped to contain Clint Capela? Would his newfound shooting touch help their stagnant offense?
Alas, we’ll never know.
But fans that are disappointed can hang their hats on the fact that the New York Knicks front office performed due diligence in attempting to bring the forward back for the 2021-2022 season.
Don’t Rule Out a Portis-Knicks Reunion
Even after a run to the NBA Finals, it’s not hard to see Bobby Portis leaving the Milwaukee Bucks this summer.
The 26-year old has a player option for $3.8-million, and while I did say he’s not a $15-million player, he’s likely to earn more than that on the open market.
Portis’s 22-point outing in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals will long be remembered as a key moment in the Bucks’ run to the Finals, given the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Could he make his way back to the New York Knicks?
As Marc Berman of the New York Post reported just weeks ago, don’t rule it out:
Ex-Knick Bobby Portis will likely get to be a free agent again this summer, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Tom Thibodeau’s club has at least some interest.
New York will be operating with over $50-million in cap space, with hopes of bolstering both the point guard position and bench contributors as they brace for another playoff run next year.
Bobby Portis has some real experience in that arena now, and he could soon be named a champion.
At the end of the day, this is the NBA.
Stranger things have happened.