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Bobby Portis suspended 8 games for punching teammate Nikola Mirotic in face

Portis publicly apologized to Mirotic, the Bulls organization and Bulls fans on Saturday

Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls are suspending forward Bobby Portis for eight games to start the season after he struck teammate Nikola Mirotic in the face during a practice altercation, according to a report from K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Johnson is also reporting that Mirotic will miss four to six weeks with two maxillary fractures in his face. (Here’s what those are.)

The suspension comes on the heels of reports on Monday night that Portis got into it with Mirotic, resulting in him punching Mirotic. Mirotic was sent to the hospital after the incident.

The team believes both parties are at fault in the incident, but Portis had to be suspended because he threw a punch.

Portis issued a public apology to Mirotic, the Bulls organization and Bulls fans on Saturday before Chicago’s matchup against the Spurs.

“I’m wrong for what I did. I want to publicly apologize to Niko. I feel like I let my fans, the Bulls organization, and most importantly my teammates down. This is not who Bobby Portis is.”

Portis said Mirotic has not responded to his texts or phone calls, but believes he can co-exist with his teammate moving forward.

What happens now?

There was already a dearth of talent on this Bulls roster, but now both Portis and Mirotic are out of commission to start the season after this incident.

Both parties were aggressive leading up to the conflict, according to Bulls vice president John Paxson, but Portis threw the punch that ultimately landed him with his suspension.

The Bulls won’t be able to evaluate Mirotic until at least a month from now. Mirotic has to wait until concussion symptoms subside before doctors can perform any surgery, so the four-to-six-week timetable could change.

Rookie Lauri Markkanen will now be thrust into a starting role, and the Bulls will end up playing second-year wing Paul Zipser as a small-ball power forward more.

If Markkanen is ready for the role, the Bulls could find a silver lining in all of this. But if he’s not, they’ll be set back even further than they currently are.