Bulls big man Bobby Portis says betting on himself this fall was still worth it
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LOS ANGELES — Right now, it looks like Bulls forward Bobby Portis made a bad bet.
First, a sprained ligament in his right knee cost him 23 games. He rehabbed back from that, got in five games, then was back in the training room every day trying to get over an injured right ankle.
After seven more games on the shelf, and with his minutes restrictions finally being relaxed against the Warriors last Friday, Portis injured his right elbow when NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant appeared to take a swing at him in a pick-and-roll situation. That cost him another game — the Bulls’ loss to the Jazz on Saturday.
Tuesday night’s game against the Lakers was just the 13th for Portis in a season that started with him turning down a contract extension and betting on himself to earn more value.
So, should he have taken that money back in October?
“Nah,” he said. “Obviously I’ve had some injuries up to this point, but I still feel like everything is lined up. It’s about me just staying healthy now and me doing my thing. The wins and losses obviously come and go from game to game. You really can’t control that part all the time. We control our effort.
“But me, personally, I just need to stay healthy, be on the court, play as hard as I can when I can. With the minutes that coach Jim [Boylen] gives me, go out there and play with force. . . . I’m just focused on my team, turning this around, and going out there and having fun. Enjoy the ride the rest of the year.”
While Portis has shown he can be a valuable piece off the bench, the Bulls aren’t winning any more or less when he’s playing. When it comes to the standings, this rebuild has been two years of bad, and no one on the roster has achieved superstar status.
Portis has at least been identified as a player the Bulls want to move forward with. But at what price?
As they did with forward Nikola Mirotic and guard Zach LaVine in back-to-back offseasons, the Bulls likely will let Portis — a restricted free agent after this season — see what the market price is for his services and then act accordingly. Portis said he’s prepared for every scenario, but he didn’t try to hide where he wants to be when all the posturing is done. He’s also confident the feeling is mutual.
“Obviously, I know that I really want to stay a Bull,” he said. “I can’t see myself in any other jersey. It would be weird to start the next season off in another uniform. I’ve been here for four seasons now — time flies fast — but I think I will be a Bull. . . . I’m the longest-tenured Bull and don’t want that to change.”
That he’s the longest-tenured Bull is shocking in itself.
“Yeah, that’s crazy,” he said with a laugh. “To be around this long . . . obviously ‘Bulls’ across my chest means a lot to me. I really take pride in that every time I step on the court. But at the same time, I feel like I’ve got a long way to go.”