In the wake of a physical altercation between Bulls power forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic, the team is expected to be without both players for several games in the near future. As we heard on Tuesday, Mirotic will likely miss a few weeks while he recovers from being punched by Portis, and his teammate is facing a certain suspension.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Portis has a call with the league office today to discuss the incident. K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune indicates (via Twitter) that Portis will be suspended at some point after the Bulls conclude their communication with the NBA.
Mirotic, who has been released from the hospital, suffered two facial fractures and a concussion, and will have to wear a mask when he eventually returns to the court, says Johnson. As for Portis, Johnson tweets that the Arkansas alum is well-regarded for his work ethic and his commitment to the team, but he’ll face a multi-game suspension for his actions.
In his full report on the incident, Johnson cites several witnesses who say that “tensions heightened” between Portis and Mirotic during a team scrimmage. After exchanging words for a few minutes during play, Mirotic and Portis began shoving one another, and Mirotic “once moved in Portis’ direction,” per Johnson. Then Portis landed the lone punch.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes, NBA teams are eligible to apply for a hardship exception granting them an extra roster spot if they have four players on their roster out for at least three games. With Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne, and Mirotic now expected to miss significant time, Chicago could apply for that exception next week – after the team’s third game – assuming Kris Dunn also remains sidelined with his finger injury.