The Chicago Bulls announced today that Bobby Portis has received an eight-game suspension for punching Nikola Mirotic in the face at practice on Tuesday. Portis will be allowed to practice with the team during his suspension.
Mirotic suffered maxillary fractures and a concussion and was hospitalized as a result of the punch. The Bulls indicated he will miss 4-6 weeks due to his injuries, and though surgery is recommended, it won’t be determined until concussion symptoms subside.
In the presser after practice today, Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson was quick to point out that there was blame to go around on both sides. The suspension was levied after reviewing film showing both Portis and Mirotic being aggressors, though Paxson mentioned that Portis had ‘crossed a line’.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg said that Portis is remorseful for his actions. He also addressed possibility of Portis and Mirotic playing together when both returned to the court.
Can Niko and Bobby play together again? Hoiberg: “Well, that’s our job.”— Sean Highkin (@highkin) October 18, 2017
Hoiberg also indicated it was his ‘job’ to not let team get ‘derailed’ (as if it isn’t already). Apparently assistant coach Randy Brown did get between the two players at one point in practice, though Hoiberg eschewed personal responsibility.
Should Hoiberg have stepped in earlier to diffuse this? “Looking back on it, hindsight is 20/20.”— Sean Highkin (@highkin) October 18, 2017
If anything, Hoiberg seemed to think his only fault was making for too competitive an environment.
Veteran Robin Lopez also spoke on behalf of his teammates saying they believe both players deserved blame, although he acknowledged that Portis crossed the line with the punch. Lopez continued to defend the Chicago Bulls culture even in the wake of the altercation.
RoLo: “That culture that we’ve had so far, it’s been genuine, it’s been real, it’s been true.”— Sean Highkin (@highkin) October 18, 2017
As far as how the suspension and the injury impact the Bulls rotation, as expected Lauri Markkanen will slot into the starting spot at the power forward position. Paul Zipser and Quincy Pondexter will also play some power forward until Portis and Mirotic come back.