By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
When it comes to the Windy City, professional players know how to come out and support each other’s franchises. Some even do so when they’ve left any roster representing Chicago.
Chicago Bulls of the past, present and future were in effect at Wintrust Arena Wednesday night to witness the Sky’s first playoff win since 2016. The Sky defeated the Diana Taurasi-less Phoenix Mercury 105-76. Bulls players Ryan Arcidiacano, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and new comers Thaddeus Young and Coby White were in attendance to witness the historic event.
Also in attendance was former Bulls player Bobby Portis. Still a welcome and remembered figure in the local basketball scene, he stated to WARR Media at the game that breaking up with Chicago is something that he finds hard to do.
“I always come back [to Chicago] two to three times here in the summer. I’ve been here four or five times this summer. Hard to get away from it,” Portis said. “This is the city I came to when I was 20 years old. I had to make a lot of decisions here. I had to grow up here. This is like my second home and I’ll always visit Chicago.”
The former Arkansas Razorback and SEC Player of the Year was drafted by the Bulls as a late first-round pick (22nd overall) in the 2015 NBA Draft, and over his 3-and-a-half years in Chicago made drastic improvements, doing so in points, rebounds, and shooting percentages throughout his time as a Bull. Portis finished his tenure with the Bulls averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds on 74 percent from the free throw line, 49% from the field and 35% from the 3-point line.
After failing in contract negotiations with the Bulls entering the 2018-19 season, Portis was essentially on the trading block and his fate was sealed at the trade deadline with a deal to the Washington Wizards including him in the Jabari Parker trade that brought Otto Porter Jr. to the Bulls. Portis played consistently for a thin front court in Washington, finishing the season averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds with solid shooting all around.
Portis, 24, has a career average of 10 points and 6 rebounds per game on 75 percent shooting from the free throw line, 49% from the field and 36% from the field in 249 games.
This summer, Portis signed a 2-year, $31 million deal with the New York Knicks. A mid-career adjustment to life New York can be a learning experience, but Portis says his experience has been nothing but positive.
“[New York] is different but life is all about making adjustments,” Portis said. “I’ve been doing that my whole life making adjustments from team to team. I’m happy with the situation that I’m in. We have a team full of guys that are hard workers and are hungry. I think this is going to be a good season for us this season. “
As Portis prepares for the ’19-20 season, he expects his new franchise to have a good season and he extends those high expectations for himself, including an intention to win one of the NBA’s major awards.
“I want to be Sixth Man of the Year,” Portis said. “That’s always been my goal. I set that goal last year and I’m going to achieve it this year. I’ve been working very hard on my game. Trying to maintain my offense game and expand it. This is going to be a great season for me.”
Portis comes into this season with a revamped Knicks roster surrounding him. A series of deals in recent months saw the Knicks move on from past franchise player Kristaps Porzingis while transitioning with the likes of Dennis Smith, Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox while also having high confidence of getting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the Blue and Orange as well as prohibitive 2019 No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.
None of those dreams materialized in the NYC but the team changed course rather successfully, adding Julius Randle, Marcus Morris and former Bull Taj Gibson while also drafting Duke standout R.J. Barrett No. 3 overall.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media