The Chicago Bulls season doesn’t tip off until Thursday, but the organization has already had to hand out the first suspension of the NBA year. On Wednesday, the team announced forward Bobby Portis was being suspended for eight games after an altercation with teammate Nikola Mirotic in practice escalated and led to Mirotic being hospitalized by a Portis punch.
Mirotic suffered maxillary fractures and a concussion from the punch, and details of the incident remain unclear. The altercation allegedly took place after the two were battling for position, leading to shoving and then the eventual Portis punch. Early reports of it being a “sucker punch” were refuted by VP of basketball operations John Paxson, who said both sides were “aggressive” prior to the punch being thrown.
Paxson also told reporters doctors were suggesting surgery for Mirotic, but it was ultimately a decision for him to make. Coach Fred Hoiberg told the media he’d visited with both players and Portis was remorseful.
It will be very interesting to see how the Bulls move forward with Portis when he returns from suspension and if they will explore any trade options. If not, it wouldn’t be the first time teammates got in a fight and learned to move on, but rarely has it resulted in a player getting hospitalized with such severe injuries.