The Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic story isn’t going to have a happy ending.
Multiple sources Thursday confirmed to the Sun-Times that Mirotic’s camp gave the Bulls a ‘‘me or him’’ ultimatum, with Mirotic insisting he or Portis be gone when he is ready to return to action.
Mirotic would have to waive his no-trade clause if the Bulls elect to keep Portis, but that doesn’t seem to be an obstacle for him.
Mirotic and Portis were involved in a practice altercation last week that resulted in Portis throwing a punch and Mirotic ending up in the hospital with a concussion and two broken bones in his face.
The Bulls immediately suspended Portis for eight games, and the hope was that once Mirotic healed from the concussion and likely surgery, the sides would be able to move past the incident. That, however, seems all but off the table at this point — at least for Mirotic.
The rest of the Bulls were doing their best not to talk about ultimatums or to pick sides before the team’s game Thursday against the Hawks. It’s not an easy line to walk.
‘‘I think about that, but I’m a different person,’’ guard Justin Holiday said when he was asked if he would be able to play again with a teammate who had punched him. ‘‘I don’t know. It would take a lot of time for me. I would have to really think about that.
‘‘But each guy is different. Obviously, I can put myself in that situation and guess what would happen, but it’s not me. I don’t want to comment on that where it makes it, ‘Well, he should have done this because this is what Justin would have done.’ It’s not my situation to comment on. That’s really tough. I can understand both sides.’’
Most of the Bulls were unaware of the latest development. Mirotic has contacted only a few of his teammates since the incident despite many of them reaching out to him. Portis has said Mirotic hasn’t responded to his texts or phone calls.
The other factor in this is that besides the punch costing Mirotic playing time in an important season for him, it also might have cost him his starting job. Rookie Lauri Markkanen has been a standout while starting at power forward in his place.
Coach Fred Hoiberg wouldn’t say Markkanen would keep the starting job when Mirotic returns, but there’s no question he has shown star potential so far.
‘‘I try to think positively and hope things work out,’’ Holiday said. ‘‘But there are a whole bunch of different scenarios that can come from this. Again, we’re going to try and make sure that we support both of them and [that] . . . it’s best for both of them and best for this team.
‘‘There are a lot of things that need to still develop with it, and until those dudes come in here every day, I feel like the energy is up. Yes, it does
affect our team. Those two guys are very important to us, but it doesn’t feel like it’s looming over us. That doesn’t mean it’s not a big topic for us.’’
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