Portis is eager to prove his worth after getting a big contract

MILWAUKEE (AP) Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis says his new contract will not change the 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 $49 million four-year deal that will keep him in Milwaukee. But he objects to the idea that the long-term deal gives him a sense of security.

“My mentality will always be that someone is trying to take my place and I have to do my best every day to show why I am worth what I am worth,” Portis said on Thursday.

Portis, 27, emerged as a fan favorite in his first two seasons with Milwaukee and relished the chance to play for a contender. The 6-foot 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!” was a regular featured on Fiserv Forum in 2021 when Portis helped the Bucks win their first NBA title in half a century. They continued last season as Portis averaged 14.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 28.2 minutes to reach career highs in all three categories.

Portis made 59 career starts when he came in for Brook Lopez, who played just 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 floor, playing like every game could be his last.

“I’m never really safe,” Portis said. “I’m always the underdog mentality, every day can change anything. Just because they love you today, they may not love you tomorrow. That has always been my mentality in this competition.”

Portis’ return reflected the Bucks’ desire to keep much of their core intact as they sought to win a second title in three years with a roster that included two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time All-Star Khris Middleton and Jrue holiday. The Bucks didn’t injured Middleton for their seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Boston Celtics.

This week, Milwaukee announced the signing of security guards Wesley Matthews and Jevon Carter, along with Portis’ return. Pat Connaughton picked up his $5.7 million player option for the coming season rather than pursuing free agency.

The Bucks have added first-round MarJon Beauchamp and forward Joe Ingles, who is recovering from a torn ACL injury that ended his season in late January.

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

“I will always feel like I have something to prove,” Portis said. “Of course I’m happy to have had the opportunity to build generational wealth for my family, but (there is) much work to be done and there is no time or need to celebrate.”

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