The Chicago Bulls suffered a pair of key losses before the season even began.
After Bulls forward Bobby Portis punched his teammate and likely starting power forward Nikola Mirotic in the face in a mid-practice scuffle on Tuesday, the team announced on Wednesday that Portis will be suspended for eight games.
Mirotic, who is the more experienced of the two, will miss four to six weeks with a fractured jaw and a concussion.
Yahoo! Sports reported that the altercation started as a shoving match and escalated to a cheap shot from Portis.
The Bulls, who are already in rebuild mode, will now start the season down two forwards, both of whom were expected to be major contributors on a team where the average player age is just 24 years old. Rookie Lauri Markkanen is the only other power forward on the depth chart.
Mirotic, 26, signed a two-year, $27 million contract to return to the Bulls in the offseason. He averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds last season in 24 minutes a game. Portis, 22, averaged 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game last season, including 13 starts.
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler, who left the Bulls during the eventful 2017 offseason, offered an interesting take on the brawl, per the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda:
"All I know is I'm not to blame for this," Butler said. "I'm going to be quiet on the matter."