Last year's Bulls team was mediocre in the standings but had plenty of in-season drama. This year's group is off to a similar start.
The Vertical's Shams Charania first reported that Nikolic Mirotic and Bobby Portis got in an altercation at practice and Mirotic was taken to the hospital as a result. The two were apparently in a shoving match until Portis hit Mirotic in the face.
The Bulls confirmed the incident in a statement.
"Chicago Bulls forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic had a physical altercation during today's practice," the team statement read. "As a result of the incident, Mirotic suffered a concussion and maxillary fractures. Surgery is likely required. Mirotic is out indefinitely.
"The Bulls are evaluating disciplinary action. An update will be provided when applicable."
Mirotic is listed at 6-foot-10, 238 pounds and Portis is 6-11, 246, so any fight between those two could cause some serious damage.
The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson reported that Mirotic has headed home and has not one, but two broken bones in his face.
With the NBA trade deadline nearly upon us — 3 p.m. Thursday — here is the latest on Jahlil Okafor. (We'll update this with news on Okafor throughout the afternoon.)
• The Bulls are still pushing to acquire Okafor, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
Chicago has been one of the rumored destinations for weeks — in fact, the Bulls were reported as a suitor for Okafor before the Pelicans, Blazers and Pacers.
• What's the hold-up? According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls "have shown no inclination to this point of including" their first-round pick, along with a player, which is what the Sixers have been seeking for Okafor.
Johnson notes that forward Nikola Mirotic is available. Mirotic, 26, is a restricted free agent after the season. With Ersan Ilyasova traded to Atlanta Wednesday night, perhaps the Sixers could look at Mirotic as a backup four to Dario Saric. The Sixers would need more in return than just Mirotic.
Mirotic's value is in his outside shooting — he's a 6-foot-10 forward who made 39 percent of his threes last season. But his numbers have dipped across the board this season and he's shooting just 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three.
• According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Okafor's preferred landing spot is Chicago, his hometown.
Obviously, it's not up to Jah — the Sixers will go with whichever offer is best.
Players or picks? If you're the Sixers, which makes more sense for Jahlil Okafor? (Both is indeed an option.)
Basketball Insiders' Michael Scotto reported Monday afternoon that the Chicago Bulls are shopping either Robin Lopez or Doug McDermott for a first-round pick.
That's meaningful to the Sixers because the Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans have been the most cited teams in Okafor trade rumors.
Chicago could be attempting to land another first-round pick to sweeten an offer for Okafor, especially if Lopez, a center, is the player moved.
The Bulls' roster doesn't offer much of intrigue. McDermott can shoot, Denzel Valentine and Nikola Mirotic are interesting pieces, but they're not difference-making talents who get the juices flowing.
A first-round pick, though, or a package that includes a pick now and in the future, could get Bryan Colangelo to pull the trigger.
Chicago currently owns two 2017 first-round picks: their own and Sacramento's top-10 protected pick. If the season ended today, the Kings would pick 10th (thus keeping it) and the Bulls would pick 16th.
It would make sense if the Sixers want to choose their own return for Okafor, which they could do with a draft pick but not with someone like McDermott.
Is McDermott even really an upgrade? The Sixers' second unit already has Nik Stauskas/Gerald Henderson at the two and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot at the three. They also sometimes play Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric together. McDermott would fit this roster better than Okafor does just because he offers the skill of shooting, but the Sixers may find an even better fit in the form of a first-round pick in the 15 to 20 range.