"Bobby Portis is not a bad person", Paxson said to reporters on Wednesday after practice, via Sean Highkin.
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NBC Sports Chicago's Vincent Goodwill added that this incident has been brewingbetween the two forwards for three years, and that for what it's worth, Mirotic was the instigator.
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. He will likely need surgery. He's a good kid, he's a competitive kid.
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Portis, who has been suspended eight games by the Bulls, reportedly struck Mirotic in the face, sending the forward to the hospital with a concussion and facial fractures.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman was at the practice and witnessed the altercation, league sources said. The Bulls are evaluating disciplinary action. Not that he didn't have his reasons, as Mirotic was a restricted free agent awaiting a contract from elsewhere or the Bulls. Portis, 22, averaged 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game last season, including 13 starts. He averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 24.0 minutes last season. Portis will be eligible to return for the Bulls' ninth game of the season, which is coincidentally also at Toronto on November 7.
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