The Chicago Bulls currently find themselves in a pickle. For the Bulls front office, their next move is a simple one: trade either Bobby Portis or Nikola Mirotic. However, a trade of either of them will not be as simple as it sounds for the Chicago Bulls.
Power forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic are out of the Chicago Bulls’ lineup for the same reason, with a different result.
The Chicago Bulls’ locker room is just over two weeks removed from witnessing a fight between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic. Portis reportedly punched Mirotic in his face, according to TMZ.
Bobby Portis, a third-year player, reacted harshly to Nikola Mirotic, who reportedly charged at him. It will go down as one of the ugliest incidents the Bulls have had in recent memory, with huge ramifications. Mirotic suffered a couple of facial fractures and will be out four-to-six weeks.
Consequently, the Chicago Bulls suspended Bobby Portis eight games, as reported by Yahoo Sports, for his role in the fight. Portis has since apologized to his teammates. His attempts to reach out to Mirotic have gone without a response.
Few members of the Bulls have heard from Nikola Mirotic since the altercation with Bobby Portis. Mirotic has sort of broken his silence to Bulls’ Vice President John Paxson.
Nikola Mirotic reportedly wants out, if the Chicago Bulls do not trade Bobby Portis. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Mirotic has issued the Bulls a “him or me” mandate as a resolution for their practice brawl.
In other words Nikola Mirotic wants the Chicago Bulls to trade him if they insist on keeping Bobby Portis. What the Bulls decide to do, which player they trade is yet to be decided.
There has been rumors circulating around the idea that the Chicago Bulls’ front office has a favorable relationship with Nikola Mirotic.
After a tough loss to the Atlanta Hawks last January, former Bulls’ stars Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade made Mirotic one of the targets of their frustrations. USA Today reported that Rajon Rondo came to the defense of Mirotic and his young Bulls’ teammates.
The Chicago Bulls made re-signing Nikola Mirotic a priority during the offseason. He is the only holdover from that Bulls quartet. And now, he may be traded.
Mirotic agreed to a two-year deal to remain with the Bulls. Because of the contract’s length, Mirotic virtually has a no-trade clause. He is willing to waive his trade clause versus ever playing with Bobby Portis again.
Nikola Mirotic’s trade request may be difficult to satisfy. During his restricted free agency period, it appeared that only a handful of NBA teams had an interest in the stretch-forward.
The trade market for Bobby Portis has likely cooled also. Punching his Bulls’ teammate in the face does nothing to endear himself to another NBA locker room.
While Bobby Portis does have trade value because of his skill set — his ability to run the floor, rebound and make a few shots, his fight with Mirotic may hurt him. If the Bulls can make a trade, it will probably force them to bring back a bad salary in return.
There are three teams that make sense in a trade for both Chicago Bulls’ players: the Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, and Philadelphia 76ers.
The Hawks and Magic could use some perimeter scoring and inside rebounding. Both Mirotic and Portis provide each aspect. Judging from the Bulls’ history, they will likely look to trade Portis instead of Mirotic. There is a clear trade destination for Bobby Portis.
The 76ers provide the best scenario for the Chicago Bulls if they want to create a trade. They have a player that the Bulls have long been interested in: Jahlil Okafor. A player-for-player trade of Bobby Portis and Jahlil Okafor works out perfectly for both the Bulls and 76ers.
A trade for Portis would give the 76ers a mobile frontcourt player, who can alternate at power forward and center. Okafor offers a young center the Bulls can build around, once they trade starter Robin Lopez to a contender.
Jahlil Okafor is currently glued to the 76ers’ bench. Okafor could help a team such as the Bulls, who still utilizes a traditional center.
The 76ers and Bulls have engaged in NBA trade talks in the past regarding Jahlil Okafor. Those trade conversations stalled due to the 76ers’ asking price for their third-string center.
At one point, there was an NBA trade rumor with the Philadelphia 76ers sending Okafor to the Chicago Bulls, with Nikola Mirotic going back to the 76ers. If those trade talks were to start back up again between the 76ers and Bulls, Mirotic’s name may get mentioned.
The Chicago Bulls cannot trade Nikola Mirotic until mid-January. That makes the idea of swapping Portis for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Okafor is more attractive. The Bulls may have to add a second-round pick or another player, such as Jerian Grant, to complete a trade with the 76ers.
Expect the Chicago Bulls to work the phones as they gauge the interest in both Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis. Chances are great that the Bulls will trade the latter. A possibility of a 76ers and Bulls swap of Bobby Portis for Jahlil Okafor trade could float out there.
There is no time for the Chicago Bulls to rush in their trade talks with any teams however. The earliest Nikola Mirotic can return is early December. The Bulls have until then to determine which player they have to trade.
[Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]