The lingering tension between Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis continues to loom over the Bulls, with the team finding it harder than ever to support both players. As K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune details, Mirotic remains upset about the situation, particularly since he’s still recovering from the injuries he sustained when he was punched by Portis, who has returned to the court following his eight-game suspension. Mirotic’s camp has made it clear to the Bulls that he doesn’t feel like he and Portis can coexist going forward, Johnson notes.
Portis seems more willing to bury the hatchet, suggesting on Tuesday that he wants to “let bygones be bygones.” Although Portis is aware of the reported ultimatum from Mirotic’s camp, he recognizes that the team’s decision on whether to trade one player or the other is out of his control, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times details.
“I want to rekindle our relationship, try as best as possible, but I don’t control that right now,” Portis said. “I’m here to play basketball.”
In a separate report, Cowley suggests that the Bulls’ locker room seems to favor Portis over Mirotic, citing two players on the team who say that the ultimatum from Mirotic’s side is carrying “zero weight.” Reports out of Chicago since the incident last month have indicated that members of the Bulls believe Mirotic is partially to blame for the altercation with Portis, and it sounds as if at least a couple of his teammates believe Mirotic needs to move past it. “This is Niko’s problem now,” one Bull told Cowley.
As we wait to see how the Bulls handle the situation, let’s round up a few more notes out of Chicago…
- Jimmy Butler admitted to Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine that he felt like the Bulls would eventually move on from either him or Fred Hoiberg, and wasn’t surprised by their decision. “I said from the beginning it was either gonna be me or the Fred Hoiberg route,” Butler said. “And rightfully so, they took Fred. Good for them.”
- While he’s happy with how things turned out, Butler is also looking forward to his first game against the Bulls, as he tells Alipour: “I got that game marked on my calendar. February 9, baby — I’m back. Oh, man, they better hope I go 0-for-30, ’cause every basket I score, I’m looking over at the bench and I got something to say.”
- Barring any setbacks, Bulls guard Zach LaVine is on track to begin taking contact in about two weeks, Cowley writes for The Sun-Times. LaVine, who continues to recover from last year’s ACL injury, hopes to return to action within the next month or two.