Since Gar Forman took over as general manager and John Paxon became vice president of the Chicago Bulls, the team has generally been under fire by its inpatient fanbase.
In a press conference at the team’s media day before the 2016-2016 season, Paxon revealed the team's new philosophy behind trading away Derrick Rose and not re-signing Joakim Noah.
“… It’s created an environment in this building. We have to start from a base level, and a base level is culture and how guys go about their jobs every day. That’s why we’re talking about accountability,” he said.
He continued, “And in doing that (retooling with youth) you still want to create a culture that’s conducive to professionalism, a team-first attitude. Some of those things, those intangibles, that are so important. And having that type of veteran experience around your young guys is critical as we go through this phase that we’re changing over the roster.”
This summer, the Bulls shipped off Jimmy Butler and decided not to re-sign veteran Rajon Rondo, completely overhauling the roster in the process. A new-look youthful Bulls team was formed.
That team-first culture that Paxon desired was dismantled on Tuesday when forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic got into a physical altercation that left Mirotic badly hurt and eventually hospitalized.
The story was first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowki included a follow-up, reporting the extent of Mirotic’s injuries.
Charania reported that a shoving altercation between the two players escalated and ended with a surprise punch from Portis. His sources told him that Mirotic is expected to be out for the foreseeable future as a result. Mirotic had recently signed a two-year, $27 million contract to remain in Chicago and was slated to be the team’s starting power forward.
Since the Bulls are rebuilding, the injury to Mirotic and the certain suspension or termination of Portis’ contract likely won’t hurt them very badly from a basketball sense since they were probably going to struggle. However, it sets them completely backwards in terms of the new culture that the club aspired to adopt.
When he recovers, it is expected that Mirotic will be back with the team. However, Portis’ future is now likely in question.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks pointed out that there is a clause in the player contract that allows a team to terminate someone for doing exactly what Portis did.
Therefore, it’s very possible that Portis’ days in Chicago could be over and the future money that he’s owed could very well be taken off the table. Last season, he averaged 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game over 64 regular-season contests before posting 6.7 points and 6.0 boards in 20.2 minutes in six playoff games.
What direction the organization decides to go remains to be seen, but Portis might have thrown away his chance at receiving additional minutes this year based on his incredibly bad decision.