Bulls: 'Crazy Eyes Portis' embracing his nickname -- and being the younger brother


Bulls: 'Crazy Eyes Portis' embracing his nickname -- and being the younger brother

When Bobby Portis enters a game at the United Center, the fans sitting with a closer view of Michael Jordan’s banner will have a clear view of the rookie’s eyes—because they can’t be missed.

“This is me – Crazy Eyes Portis,” the long-armed athletic forward said. “I'm going to be bugging out there. I'm going to try to play as hard as possible.”

Before anybody else can dish out the nickname, Portis is laying full claim to it, considering the comparisons that have stemmed from noticeable pupils have ranged from former NFL receiver Plaxico Burress to former NBA player Darius Miles to current Los Angeles Laker Roy Hibbert.

Brooklyn Net Joe Johnson brought up the Miles comparison, back from their days in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“Everyone always tells me that I look like him (Burress), and that I look like Roy Hibbert. I hope I don’t, though,” he said.

Let’s just say he’s not a fan of any, so Crazy Eyes Portis will have to do for the moment.

“I'm just taking that nickname from what everybody else is calling me,” Portis said. “Everyone always talks about my eyes being bugged and everything. That's something I'm going to take and run with. I like that name.”

[MORE: Jimmy Butler setting the tone early in Bulls training camp]

Nicknames in the NBA can be derived as a hazing technique before becoming a term of endearment, and considering Portis has always been the older brother, following the lead of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson in the frontcourt appeals to him.

“Joakim for sure. He’s like the big brother I never had,” Portis said. “Growing up I was always the oldest. I never had a big brother. He’s been there pushing me so far, reminding me everything I do should be hard and tenacious. I kind of feed off of his energy, and both of us try and bring the team up a little bit.”

Walking the streets of Chicago, he’s fairly recognizable, so the attention, the fast pace of the big city and yes, the traffic, is new to him. But the effort that’s required to play inside the lines of the court translates from the dirt roads to air-conditioned gyms with 30-somethings and the big eyes of evaluation watching his every move.

“I love it. That’s something I bring each and every day,” Portis said. “That’s one of my biggest qualities, playing hard. If I can just keep continuing to play hard like I do, I feel like our team will be good.”

[RELATED: Joakim Noah wants another shot at pairing with Pau Gasol]

And good veteran teams traditionally don’t just have minutes laid out for late first-round picks, especially in a crowded frontcourt where consistent time is almost impossible to guarantee.

“All of us are competing, you know. Me, Taj, Joakim, Pau and Mirotic – we’re all competing,” Portis said. “We’re all trying to fight for those minutes. We’re all trying to play the big role and help our team be successful. It’s not about backing down. It’s about stepping up and making your teammates better.”

The uncertainty of playing time aside, he’s treating the new experience with the utmost seriousness, as his crazy eyes will tell you before his lips part to tell you.

“I’ve been getting up every morning trying to get here first to make a good impression,” Portis said. “This is my first job ever. I’m 20 years old and I haven’t worked anywhere but here. I think it's a great job to have.”

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks


Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

Denzel Valentine’s troublesome left ankle is going to keep him on the sideline for at least the next two weeks. Fred Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons that Valentine is suffering from a bone bruise in the ankle he sprained on the second day of training camp. Valentine will be evaluated in two weeks.

“It sucks because of all the work I put in this summer and being around the guys you want to be out there so bad,” he said. “Things happen for a reason, and now that we know what’s going on I at least have a time frame and be patient with it; it’s bad news but good news at the same time as it gives me time to get ready.”

Valentine had been practicing earlier in the week and appeared close to a return after spraining the ankle on Sept. 25. But the third year wing complained of discomfort in the ankle and missed practice on Friday. A scan of the left ankle revealed the bone bruise, and Hoiberg wouldn’t speculate on when exactly Valentine might return.

It’s the same ankle Valentine had surgery on in May 2017. Valentine also missed the last two weeks of last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Valentine or the Bulls, who are in desparate need of help both in the backcourt and on the wing.

Though Valentine isn’t a true point guard, he averaged 3.2 assists per game off the bench last season. The Bulls could use that kind of production when Kris Dunn returns on Monday, as Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono haven’t exactly showed promise in the early going.

Instead, Valentine is on the mend and it’s unclear when he might return. Given he’s had surgery on the same ankle before, the Bulls will be cautious upon his return.

“I’m a fighter, I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand dealt," Valentine said. "I can’t sit here and be negative, I just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

The Bulls are still scrambling to add depth at point guard and found another body to throw in the rotation.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Bulls "are planning to sign" Shaquille Harrison. Harrison was waived by the Suns on Monday.

In order to complete the move, the Bulls are reportedly waiving center Omer Asik.

Harrison went undrafted out of Tulsa in 2016. The Suns signed him and sent him to the then NBA D-League. Last season, the 25-year-old from Kansas City played in 23 games and made two starts in the NBA. He averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 assists in 16.7 minutes per game.

The Suns signed Jamal Crawford earlier this week and waived Harrison. The Bulls apparently have swooped in.

This move comes just six days after the Bulls added Tyler Ulis, who was also waived by the Suns. Ulis didn't play in the season-opening loss at Philadelphia.

Kris Dunn will miss his second straight game Saturday against the Pistons. His absence against the Sixers showed the lack of depth at guard for the Bulls. Cam Payne started at point guard and split minutes with Ryan Arcidiacono. Payne went 0-for-4 in 21 minutes and led coach Fred Hoiberg to say potential lineup changes are "still up in the air."

Harrison can now join Payne, Arcidiacono and Ulis in a battle for backup minutes at point guard when Dunn returns to the lineup.