The price to be paid from the fight at Bulls practice Tuesday came into focus Wednesday.
For his part, Portis has been suspended eight games by the Bulls without pay for his actions. He will be able to practice with the team, and can return to action on Nov. 7 against Toronto.
The incident happened during the Bulls practice Monday. This much everyone agrees on: What started as a physical battle for rebounding position around the basket turned into a shoving match between Mirotic and Portis. Also, so far this isn’t unusual, shoving matches happen every once in a while on every team (in every professional sport).
Then Portis punched Mirotic and dropped him, fracturing his face. While the first reports called it a “sucker punch” — likely spin from Mirotic’s agent/camp — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said he didn’t see it as one. Apparently, neither did Robin Lopez, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago.
Whether it was a sucker punch or not is moot — you can’t punch and drop a teammate. It crosses the line.
Mirotic may be the Bulls best player, and certainly will be one of their leading scorers this season. Portis has struggled to live up to his early promise and reportedly is frustrated with his role, and by extension Mirotic. That does not mean you can punch the team’s best player in the face. Rather the opposite.
Can you imagine the reaction of any other organization if their best player got punched by a teammate?
The Bulls have to make a decision on what to do with Portis, who has a $2.5 million team option for next season, then would be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019.