As expected, Bobby Portis opted out of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and will become an unrestricted free agent.
The deadline to make his decision was 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Portis, 27, had signed consecutive two-year deals with player options on the back end with Milwaukee. He first signed with the Bucks at the beginning of the 2020 season for about $3.6 million, opted out of the second year and re-signed with the team for two years and $8.9 million. He earned about $4.3 million this season.
Even though Portis is an unrestricted free agent, the Bucks hold “early Bird rights” for him, which means they can exceed the salary cap to sign him to a multi-year deal. Named after Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird, these rights allow a team to re-sign their own free agents beyond the salary cap for up to 175% of the player’s previous salary or 105% of the league average salary from the previous season, whichever is greater.
A league source said there is a good chance Portis and the Bucks will come to terms on an agreement in principle once the negotiating window reopens at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The maximum contract the Bucks can offer the 6-foot-10 forward is four years and about $50 million. The shortest deal allowed would be two seasons, but an option cannot be included.
Portis became an organizational icon as he came off the bench in 2020-21 to average 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 47.1% from behind the three-point line in helping the Bucks win the NBA championship.
He bolstered his status as a fan favorite by returning last season and he continued to show improvement on both ends of the floor as he started 59 games in place of an injured Brook Lopez. That not only was a career high in games started but he also set career highs in minutes (28.2), points (14.6) and rebounds (9.1). He also shot 39.3% from behind the three-point line.
After being drafted No. 22 overall by Chicago in 2015, Portis averaged 10.2 points and 5.9 rebounds on 45.6% shooting overall (and 36% from behind the three-point line) for the Bulls, Washington Wizards and New York Knicks over five seasons before signing with the Bucks.