Bulls forward Bobby Portis issued a public apology today for the punch that injured teammate Nikola Mirotic, relays K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The altercation left Mirotic with a concussion and two fractured facial bones that will sideline him for about a month. Portis received an eight-game suspension, cutting further into Chicago’s frontcourt depth.
Portis expressed regret for the punch and said he hopes Mirotic will heal quickly. He has tried calling and texting his teammate, but Mirotic hasn’t responded. There’s a possibility that Mirotic will take legal action, which could extend the story through the rest of the season. “Going forward, I want to make sure that me and Niko are cool and that we can be teammates again,” Portis said. “I’m pretty sure we can. We just have to repair the relationship.”
There’s more news from the Central Division:
- If Chicago winds up with the top pick in the draft, former Bulls center Pau Gasol knows who they should take, Johnson writes in a separate piece. Gasol, who was in town with the Spurs for a game tonight, offered a hearty endorsement of Slovenian star Luka Doncic, whom he faced in this year’s Eurobasket semifinals. “He’s a very, very talented player. It’s really rare how well this guy plays at his age . He just continues to grow,” Gasol said. “It’s the right path. You see a guy who has done really well so far and is an exceptional young player with great size, great fundamentals, great composure, great poise to his game for his age — for any age for that matter.”
- Friday’s matchup between the Bucks and Cavaliers was the latest opportunity for Giannis Antetokounmpo to show he’s on LeBron James‘ level, notes Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report. Although Antetokounmpo outscored James, 34-24, the Cavs claimed a decisive victory. The “Greek Freak” is posting MVP numbers through the first week of the season, and at age 22 he seems destined to someday become the best player in the league. “You understand the magnitude of it, and you still wanna claim your throne as well,” said Cleveland guard Dwyane Wade. “You don’t want them to push you off it. It was a great matchup watching those two guys do everything that’s needed for their team.”
- J.R. Smith believes offseason moves have given the Cavaliers the league’s deepest team, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “You can go around from 6 through 12 or whatever and mark it up against anybody else’s bench, and by far, we got the best bench,” said Smith, who became part of that reserve unit when the Cavs signed Wade. “And we have more experience too.”