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#pounditSunday, May 15, 2022

Nikola Mirotic upset Bobby Portis will make Bulls return before him

When the Chicago Bulls take on the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, forward Bobby Portis will take his spot on the bench and play back-up to Lauri Markkanen, possibly even seeing some reserve minutes throughout the game.

It will be Portis’ first action of the season after serving a team-issued eight-game suspension following an altercation with teammate Nikola Mirotic on October 17, which resulted in Mirotic suffering a concussion and facial fractures.

Although he is no longer experiencing any concussion symptoms, the timetable for Mirotic’s return is not nearly as close at hand. In fact, he’s expected to miss several more weeks and that, understandably, does not sit well.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Mirotic remains both upset about the altercation and distant from his teammates and the organization.

Though he is free of his concussion symptoms, Nikola Mirotic remains weeks away from returning from the two facial fractures that Portis caused with a punch to the face during an Oct. 17 altercation between the forwards in practice. Mirotic remains upset enough over the disparity in time of absences that he has had little contact with teammates, and his camp has made clear to management that, for now, it doesn’t see a way the two forwards can coexist.

Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg supports the return of Portis despite Mirotic’s continued frustration.

“This is something that unfortunately, it happened,” Hoiberg said. “There was an altercation. And Bobby served the eight-game suspension. It was something that was thought a lot about as far as what the punishment would be, in collaboration with the league. They felt that this was the right punishment. He sat out his games and was able to stay active and practice with us. Now we’ll put him back on the floor. And we welcome him back.”

To this point, Portis and Mirotic have not spoken since the altercation, although Portis has reportedly attempted to reach out. Ultimately, it’s going to be very tricky for the Bulls to keep both players on their roster despite continued efforts to do exactly that.

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