MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis says his new contract won’t change the blue-collar approach that helped him earn the big payday.

After turning down a $4.55 million player option to become a free agent, Portis has agreed to a four-year, $49 million contract that keeps him in Milwaukee. But he disputes the idea that the long-term agreement gives him a sense of security.

“My mindset will always be someone trying to take my place and I have to go out there every day to show why I’m worth what I’m worth,” Portis said Thursday.

Portis, 27, became a fan favorite in his first two seasons in Milwaukee and relished the opportunity to play for a competitor. The 6-foot-10 forward had made just one playoff appearance in his first five seasons in the league while playing for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards.

Chants of “Bobby!” Cop!” performed regularly at the Fiserv Forum in 2021 as 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 set career highs in all three categories.

Portis had a career-high 59 starts replacing Brook Lopez, who only played in 13 regular-season games due to a back injury that required surgery. Portis returned to his usual bench role once Lopez returned in mid-March.

Fans love the toughness he brings to the ground, playing as if every game could be his last.

“I’m never really safe,” Portis said. “I’m still the underdog mindset, any day everything can change. Just because they like you today doesn’t mean they might not like you tomorrow. That’s always been my mindset in this league.

Portis’ return reflected the Bucks’ desire to keep much of their core intact as they bid for a second title in three years with a roster including two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time All-Star Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. The Bucks didn’t have an injured Middleton for their loss in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics.

This week, Milwaukee announced the signings of guards Wesley Matthews and Jevon Carter as well as the return of Portis. Pat Connaughton chose his $5.7 million player option for the upcoming season rather than pursue free agency.

The Bucks added first-round pick MarJon Beauchamp and freelance forward Joe Ingles, who is recovering from a torn ACL that ended his season in late January. The Bucks announced Thursday that they had signed Beauchamp, who was the 24th overall selection in the draft.

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

“I will always feel like I have something to prove,” Portis said. “Obviously, I’m happy to have had the chance to create generational wealth for my family, but (there is) still a lot of work to do and there is no time or need to celebrate.”


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