How Bobby Portis pitched the Milwaukee Bucks as a great free agent spot

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 22 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 22 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

When Bobby Portis signed with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2020 offseason, his sole goal was to come in and win a championship.

Playing in just one playoff series throughout the first six seasons of his career, he was itching to find a competitive team to contribute for. The last straw came when the wheels started turning on resumption of the 2019-20 season after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down basketball in March. However, Portis, then playing for the New York Knicks, was not invited down to the ‘bubble’ as the Knicks were one of eight teams not selected to come down to Orlando and finish the season due to their subpar record.

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After that incident, the big man seemed determined to seek out a destination that would guarantee him not a championship but merely an opportunity to chase after one and showcase what he brings to the table on the big stage.

Milwaukee was seemingly the ideal place for him to land as he inked a two-year deal worth $7.4 million to join the team. After outplaying that deal and then some, Portis got his ultimate wish granted as he hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy at season’s end.

Bobby Portis detailed how signing with the Milwaukee Bucks was the best decision he has ever made

After playing a key role for the Bucks all throughout the regular season and cementing his status as a fan-favorite in the city of Milwaukee forever, Portis was a champion. Sitting down with the media following a Game 6 NBA Finals victory where he scored 16 points, the big man detailed how things could not have worked out better for him this year.

"“I knew it was the right place when I made the decision. Fun fact, like fun little quick story. During free agency, actually, before free agency, the Knicks turned down my team option and they wanted to sign me to another deal and it was pretty nice money. But I wasn’t really worried about the money. Sometimes money isn’t everything and it’s about happiness… I found happiness here. When I first got here, I felt welcomed, I felt loved, the guys made me at home, the coaches made me feel comfortable. It was a nice place, and easy system for me to fit in. I get to be myself every day, just be energetic.”"

Milwaukee has never been a desirable free agent destination, forcing the team to make most of their big moves through the draft or trades. Look at their leading trio, after all. Aside from drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday were both traded for. However, to hear Portis, a player who willingly came in from the outside while taking less money from other suitors, rave about how perfect this decision was for him has to catch the attention of other potential free agents following this title win.

Milwaukee cannot offer the vibrant weather of Los Angeles or the bright lights of New York, but this team will come in each and every year ready to compete at the highest level. This has to resonate well with other players potentially with a similar line of thinking to what Portis was going through when he was not invited to resume last season. Perhaps they could look at a place like Milwaukee and see how they operate and give them some consideration when their contract comes up.

Of course, the 26-year-old was not intentionally trying to pitch Milwaukee as a place for free agents, just retelling his personal story from the season. His ascension to becoming a fan favorite as the Fiserv Forum crowd chanted his name throughout these playoffs is certainly something to behold, and time will tell if this title win is enough for him to come back. Portis holds a player option worth $3.8 million next season, and he has earned himself a raise. No one could fault him for potentially wanting more, and if he does opt-out, the Bucks should prioritize bringing him back, and it seems like he would be just fine with that as well.

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Ultimately, Portis sacrificed bigger checks to come play here, and it worked out in the end as he will be etched in NBA history as a champion, which is precisely what he set out to do. Who knows, perhaps other soon-to-be free agents will take a similar approach this offseason and beyond.