Bulls' Nikola Mirotic accepts Bobby Portis' apology for punching him in the face

In one of the stranger NBA offseason storylines, Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic suffered multiple facial fractures and a concussion after teammate Bobby Portis reportedly punched him in the face during an altercation in practice just two days before their season-opening game against the Toronto Raptors.

Reports indicate that there is blame to be assigned on both sides, but the Bulls suspended Portis eight games and he promptly apologized to Mirotic for the way he behaved. Mirotic had yet to speak publicly about the incident, but on Wednesday he broke his silence and accepted Portis' apology. Via ESPN's Nick Friedell:

"We are teammates," Mirotic said after Wednesday's practice. "We are on the same team. Obviously we are fighting for this team. We both are going to do what we need to do to make it work. Yeah, I did accept his apology."

Mirotic said he did not want to address events in the past and did not directly answer a question regarding whether the pair has actually sat down and spoken. When asked if Portis knew that he had accepted his apology, Mirotic responded that he would eventually.

"I guess he will know now," Mirotic said.

Mirotic went on to say that he is comfortable with the team and that he's received support from his teammates. In early November the Chicago Tribune reported that Mirotic was upset that Portis had returned to the team before he had, and that he did not feel there was a way for the two of them to coexist.

A report quickly followed from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times saying that the Bulls' locker room had sided with Portis, and felt that his apology was sufficient for Mirotic to bury the hatchet.

On Wednesday Mirotic did not say whether or not he had requested a trade from Bulls management, saying, "That's something my agent can tell you. I'm happy to be back."

The Bulls have been simply awful this season and have an NBA-worst 3-16 record. The return of Mirotic will help, but at this point more wins are probably the last thing that the Bulls want or need. If there was ever a team in tank mode, the Bulls are it, and looking to unload Mirotic and his $12.5 million expiring contract seems like the obvious move. Now the question is, will there be any takers?

Because the Bulls re-signed Mirotic this summer, NBA rules prohibit him from being traded until Jan. 15. So Chicago is probably hoping that Mirotic plays well enough once he returns to entice another team into trading for him once mid-January rolls around.

In three seasons with the Bulls, Mirotic has averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 35 percent on 3-pointers. 

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