Bulls players reportedly side with Bobby Portis over Nikola Mirotic after incident

Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic reportedly doesn't want to be on the same team as Bobby Portis, who sent Mirotic to the hospital with two broken bones and a concussion after punching him in the face on the first day of the NBA season in October. That's understandable.

But, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Portis likely isn't going anywhere. If it's a Mirotic-or-Portis situation in Chicago, Cowley reports that the Bulls players have made their choice:

According to at least two Bulls players, the ultimatum issued by Nikola Mirotic and his camp that either he or Bobby Portis has to go is carrying zero weight. If anything, it has further entrenched Portis with his teammates with one telling the Sun-Times, "This is Niko's problem now.''

... Portis tried to reach out to Mirotic via text and in a message, but received no response. That's why in talking to Bulls players it's becoming obvious that Mirotic has to go.

The feeling is Portis has done his part to repair things, and the reality of the situation is Portis is looked at by teammates as a guy that has put in all the work this summer, is a better teammate, and is just more liked. Choosing Mirotic over Portis would completely disrupt a chemistry that has been building since the front office made the decision to rebuild by trading Jimmy Butler in June.

Portis, who was suspended for the first eight games of the season by the Bulls because of the incident, made his season debut on Tuesday with 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 119-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors. The Bulls exercised Portis' fourth-year option on Oct. 27, 10 days after the altercation, after the 6-foot-11 forward averaged 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game in his first two seasons with Chicago.

Mirotic has reportedly made it clear to the Bulls that he would welcome a trade, so if Cowley is correct about the locker room sentiment, it appears that Mirotic's days in Chicago are likely numbered. The 6-10 forward averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in his three NBA seasons, all with the Bulls.

One problem is that because he re-signed with the Bulls this summer, Mirotic cannot be traded until Jan. 15. The initial diagnosis for Mirotic's recovery was four-to-six weeks, so he'll likely be available to play well before that date. That would leave the Bulls in a situation where they either have to find a way to play both he and Portis together, or let Mirotic collect dust while they await Jan. 15.

Neither situation is ideal for the Bulls, but it's appearing more and more likely that Mirotic will be sent elsewhere in January.

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