Part 11 of a series analyzing the New York Knicks
Knicks power forward Bobby Portis got judged more for his contract than his contribution.
Taking advantage of the Knicks striking out on stars in free agency, Portis landed a whopping two-year, $30.7 million pact to be their backup power forward.
There was no way Portis could live up to that money. But the 25-year-old put together some massive games — including single-handedly beating his former club, the Bulls, with 28 points in 30 minutes in a contest MSG Network replayed Tuesday night.
Portis, quarantining in his home state of Arkansas, made $15 million this season and a $15.7 million team option exists for next season.
“At the time of the signing it was a little high, but they got an option,’’ one NBA personnel director told The Post. “So to get that they had to pay the premium, but I can’t imagine they can keep him.”
Selected by Chicago with the 22nd pick in the 2015 draft, Portis is expected to become a free agent and probably is worth the midlevel exception that stood at $9.2 million last summer, according to NBA talent evaluators. With the coronavirus pandemic potentially canceling the season, there’s no telling what the midlevel will look like in 2020 free agency.
“People look at him through a different — and sometimes unfair lens — but he stayed in his lane, knew his role and produced,’’ one talent evaluator said. “You can argue that after Marcus Morris, he was responsible for a lot of wins. And he bangs a little more than he gets credit for.’’
Never known for his defense or ball sharing, Portis joined his third team in five months when he signed July 1 and was inconsistent up until the All-Star break.
But over the last 11 games, Portis averaged 13.5 points on 52.6 percent shooting, including 41.4 percent (12 of 29) on 3-pointers. If the season is over, Portis would finish in double figures (10.1 points) on 45 percent shooting and become the only Knick to play in all 66 games.
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“Bobby was really terrific the last month heading into the shutdown,’’ his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Post. “He was getting comfortable with the guys he was playing with. He was trending toward a great finish to the season.
“I think there was an adjustment period with a new team, the coaching change. There were a lot of things happening at the same time and that accounted for some rough spots.’’
At 6-foot-10, Portis is the prototype stretch 4. He made 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers on the season. However, while one NBA personnel man praises his “perimeter skills’’ and rebounding, Portis’ defense is still a work in progress.
“He struggles with team defense, isn’t a shot-blocker or rim protector and can struggle with mobile 4s and powerful low-post 5s,’’ the personnel man said. “And what is his position — 4 or 5?”
The Knicks fielded calls about Portis at the Feb. 6 trade deadline. His gargantuan contract made a deal too arduous.