Milwaukee Bucks: Regrading the notorious Bobby Portis signing from 2020

Jul 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Jul 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis
Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

I don’t think any Milwaukee Bucks fan could have expected the Bobby Portis signing almost a year ago to have gone as well as it has. Even putting aside the championship and the personal growth and development in Portis’ game, the simple fact that he has become a fan favorite and beloved among all Bucks fans is something that no one saw coming.

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After signing Portis in late November to a two-year deal worth $8 million, he almost immediately became a crucial reserve and found a role on the team as a floor spacing big man.

Because of his high energy, Portis quickly developed a relationship with Bucks fans, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, not many got to see Portis’ tenacious play live and in-person at the beginning of the new season.

The relationship grew stronger in the playoffs after Portis was benched in the Bucks’ second round series against the Brooklyn Nets. Many fans and media wondered why he was taken out of the rotation completely, but it was easy to see looking back on the series. The Nets would often hunt Portis on offense, and he’d yet to develop a trust with head coach Mike Budenholzer that he could be trusted on defense.

He got his chance to be back in the rotation against the Atlanta Hawks and he took full advantage, becoming a staple in the rotation for the Conference Finals and eventually the NBA Finals. It also spawned the birth of the “BOBBY! BOBBY!” chants.

In our initial grading of this signing, we had originally given the deal a B for a grade. There were initial concerns about his defense which were very valid and something that will come up again. However, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the regrade will certainly be higher. With that being said, here is the regrade on the Portis signing almost a year later.

The financial impact of the Bobby Portis signing almost a year later for the Milwaukee Bucks

In stark contrast to the Jrue Holiday trade, this is pretty simple from a financial perspective for the Bucks. Portis came in on a two-year contract worth $8 million total. It held a player option in the second season so that if Portis were to outplay the value on the contract, he could decline the player option and earn more the next offseason. His salary made him the 7th-highest paid Buck behind the trio upfront, Brook Lopez, P.J. Tucker, and Pat Connaughton.

Well, Portis obviously vastly outplayed that contract, declined his player option, and then signed a new contract with the Bucks again for two years, $9 million. He surely could have received more from another team but chose to sign a Non-Bird rights extension which was a 120 percent raise from his previous year’s salary.

Getting the kind of production that Portis gave the Bucks last season at that contract should be considered an absolute steal. He even received some third-place Sixth Man of the Year votes for how productive and valuable he was to the Bucks last season.

It’s rare a team gets the opportunity to sign and then retain a prime-age player for below market value twice, especially a team in a small market like Milwaukee. But those are the benefits you get when you win a championship, and the fans build a special connection with that player.