Bulls

Bobby Portis is ready to battle: 'I play angry, I play mad'

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Bobby Portis is ready to battle: 'I play angry, I play mad'

Bobby Portis knows who his opponents are. And he knows what they did.

In his two seasons at Arkansas, the 6-foot-11 forward began his pregame routine the same way each game.

"I sit in the locker room and I envision the other player on the team slapped my mom," he deadpanned at the NBA Draft Combine earlier this month. "I play angry. I play mad."

It should come as no surprise, then, that Portis also admitted at the combine he models his game after Kevin Garnett. The future Hall-of-Famer made his name as a dominant power forward with offensive versatility and a unique blend of athleticism, energy and passion on the defensive end. Garnett didn't make too many friends outside of his teammates, earning the reputation as the league's most ruthless trash talker and most passionate player.

Portis, an upbeat and charismatic 20-year-old off the court is able to flip the switch and hopes to bring the intensity Garnett exudes to the NBA team that selects him.

"I bring that same physicality, that same passion and that same log on my shoulder that (Garnett) plays with," he said. "Once I step on the court, I'm mad."

[NBA DRAFT PROFILE: Arkansas F Bobby Portis]

Portis will hear his name called early on June 26, perhaps as early as the low teens in the lottery. He was an incredibly efficient and versatile offensive player in his final season with the Razorbacks, shooting nearly 54 percent from the field while showing excellent range from 15 feet and even a few 3-pointers. He also averaged 3.4 offensive rebounds per game. Defensively his rebounding left something to be desired, but he averaged better than a block and a steal per game and held his own in the rugged SEC, helping Arkansas to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008.

Teams know what they're getting on the floor, but Portis also wants front offices to know in interviews that they're getting a player with a mean streak willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win.

"I play with a chip on my shoulder, a log on my shoulder that no one else plays with," he said. "I go hard every possession. Some players play to play; I play to win. Playing to play is you want to get out there and play 20 minutes, get your minutes and get your shots. I play to win, which means if the coach puts me out there for 4-5 minutes, he knows that Bobby Portis is going to give his all every single second and minute he's out there."

Bulls take tunnel vision approach to Charlotte for opener vs. Hornets

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USA Today

Bulls take tunnel vision approach to Charlotte for opener vs. Hornets

The significance of his first opening night as head coach? Jim Boylen wasn’t biting.

Opening with four of five games against teams that didn’t make last season’s playoffs, including Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C.? Boylen steered clear of that.

Addressing the goal stated on media day to make the playoffs? Lauri Markkanen added a qualifier.

“No promises,” he said. “But that’s the goal, for sure.”

The Bulls officially closed training camp Tuesday with a one-game-at-a-time and bunker mentality that would make any fan of clichés proud. They’re focused on the Hornets---and nothing of greater significance for now.

“We don’t talk about playoff team, non-playoff team. We’re talking about Charlotte,” Boylen said. “We’re going to play as hard as we can against Charlotte. That’s what we can control. And then we’ll move on.”

Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. are scheduled to start. Chandler Hutchison, who increased his on-court work but has yet to practice because of a hamstring issue, is the only injured player. Boylen said he’d announce his other inactive player besides Hutchison Wednesday.

“I just want to help the team,” Boylen said, elaborating on the significance of his first opening night as head coach. “As a head coach, sometimes you help them and sometimes you let them help themselves. I want to be there for them, support them. Hopefully we honor our principles. We do our basics better, the best we can, and see what happens.”

Boylen wouldn’t touch the subject. But even with all four games against last season’s non-playoff teams coming on the road, getting off to a fast start is essential.

Beyond the fact it will continue the good vibes that began with a widely praised offseason and through voluntary September workouts, the Bulls are relatively healthy. And the close to their schedule offers some brutal tests, so building a cushion early would bolster playoff talk.

“That’s what we’re trying to do---start off strong,” Markkanen said. “That sets the pace for the rest of the year. We’re going one game at a time, but it’s really important for us to get these.”

The Bulls visit Memphis to face a rebuilding Grizzlies team and No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant on Friday. They will navigate the two-game trip following a preseason in which they played at a faster pace than last season and averaged 39.4 3-pointers per game. That ranked ninth in the league after finishing 27th with just 25.9 attempts last season.

“I think we get a ton of open looks,” Markkanen said. “I’ve had good looks and my teammates have as well. We’re playing unselfish basketball, sharing the ball, making the extra pass. I think it’s going to help us.”

Despite all the optimism and addition of 12-year veteran Thad Young, the Bulls remain young, the league’s second-youngest team behind the Suns. Questions about depth and defensive efficiency are legitimate.

The tests start for real Wednesday.

“I’ve seen a group of guys that want to do the right things,” Boylen said. “It’s a high character group. It’s a willing group. Our care factor is high and I expect for us to care for each other, play for each other, sacrifice for each other. I think we’ll do that well.” 

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Bulls sign guard Max Strus to a two-way contract

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USA Today

Bulls sign guard Max Strus to a two-way contract

The Bulls announced today they have signed guard Max Strus to a two-way contract. Strus went undrafted during the 2019 NBA Draft before being signed by the Boston Celtics during preseason. He played in four preseason games for the Celtics, averaging 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists.

The Celtics waived Strus to make way with athletic wing Javonte Green on the final roster.

Max Strus is a Chicagoland native, growing in Hickory Hills and attending Amos Alonzo Stagg High School. Strus played college basketball at Lewis University in Romeoville before playing for the DePaul Blue Demons.

Standing at six-foot-five and 215 pounds, Strus was named to the All Big-East Second Team after averaging 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 35 games during his senior 2018-19 season. As a senior he played 29-straight games with double-figure scoring and set DePaul season records with 113 3-pointers and 311 3-point attempts. His career scoring average of 18.6 points per game with the fourth best in DePaul history.

We’re excited to have Strus back in Chicago and ready to see what he brings to the Bulls when their season starts tomorrow against Charlotte.

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