The Bobby Portis story has evolved from the preseason, where he put the punch in punchline following his incident with Nikola Mirotic and many felt he shouldn’t have played another game in a Bulls uniform. It’s a distant memory as he prepares for his first stint as a starter Monday against the Boston Celtics, where his play has done the talking and he’s used his emotion to help the Bulls develop an identity of competitiveness. Those good graces may have the Bulls truly evaluating where Portis fits long-term, and it could work to the benefit of both sides as they could engage in contract extension talks this summer before Portis is scheduled to hit restricted free agency, if the two sides don't reach a deal this October. A front office source tells NBCSportsChicago.com a deal for Portis “will be discussed” this summer, as Portis has had a breakout third season, averaging 13.2 points and 6.5 rebounds. In the 11 games since the Bulls traded Mirotic to New Orleans, Portis’ tangible production has matched his efficiency, as he’s averaged 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 47 percent and 39 percent from 3-point range. While Zach LaVine’s restricted free agency is more immediate and David Nwaba is a priority the Bulls will still have salary cap space beyond next season when Robin Lopez’ contract comes off the books, along with Omer Asik’s $3 million buyout of his $11.9 million deal. Portis will make $2.49 million next season, so any contract extension won’t take hold until the 2019-20 season when the salary cap is expected to take another jump from $101 million this coming summer to $109 million. Recent history says the Bulls let their restricted free agents go into the marketplace before getting a deal done—not to the point of getting offer sheets which would be a tricky proposition—but establishing value. If the Bulls lock him up to a deal this summer, it could prevent Portis from becoming more costly down the line if he makes another jump in year four—with Jimmy Butler being the example, turning himself from a solid starter to an All-Star and max player in 2014-15. It would go against Bulls precedent, as only Derrick Rose received a contract extension before going into restricted free agency, but Portis will be open to contract talks this summer, according to sources.