Milwaukee Bucks’ Bobby Port eager to prove himself after big contract

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis says his new contract won’t change the working-class approach that helped him earn the big payday.

After turning down a $4.55 million player option to become a free agent, Portis agreed to a four-year, $49 million deal that keeps him in Milwaukee. However, he denies the notion that the long-term deal gives him any sense of security.

“My mindset will always be someone trying to take my place and I have to work hard every day to show why I’m worth what I’m worth,” Portis said Thursday.

The 27-year-old Portis was a fan favorite during his first two seasons in Milwaukee and reveled in the opportunity to play for a challenger. The 6-foot-10 forward had only appeared in one playoff series in his first five seasons in the league, playing for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards.

Chants of “Bobby! Bobby!” made regular appearances at the Fiserv Forum in 2021 as Portis helped the Bucks win their first NBA title in half a century. The chants continued last season as Portis averaged 14.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 28.2 minutes in all three categories.

Portis made a career-high 59 starts when he filled in for Brook Lopez, who only played 13 regular-season games due to a back injury that required surgery. Portis returned to his usual bench role when Lopez returned in mid-March.

Fans love the tenacity he brings to the ground and plays like every game could be his last.

“I’m never really sure,” Portis said. “I’m always the underdog mentality, every day everything can change. Just because they love you today, they might not love you tomorrow. That has always been my attitude in this league.”

Portis’ return reflected the Bucks’ desire to keep much of their core intact as they attempt to win a second title in three years with a roster that includes two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time All-Star Khris Middleton and All-defensive teams include regular Jrue Holiday. The Bucks didn’t have an injured Middleton for their seven-game Eastern Conference Semifinals loss to the Boston Celtics.

This week, Milwaukee announced the signing of guards Wesley Matthews and Jevon Carter along with the return of Portis. Pat Connaughton has received his $5.7 million player option for the upcoming season instead of pursuing the free hand.

The Bucks have added first-round draft pick MarJon Beauchamp and free-agent forward Joe Ingles, who is recovering from a torn cruciate ligament injury that ended his season in late January. The Bucks announced Thursday that they have signed Beauchamp, who was No. 24 overall in the draft.

Portis is ready to work with his old and new teammates. Even after signing his big deal, he remains as motivated as ever.

“I’ll always feel like I have something to prove,” Portis said. “Obviously I’m glad I had the chance to build generational wealth for my family, but [there’s] There is still a lot to do and there is no time or reason to celebrate.”

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