John Paxson preaches patience in resolving Nikola Mirotic-Bobby Portis incident
NBA.com staff reports
Chicago Bulls executive vice president John Paxson made an unscheduled appearance at practice today to further address the fallout from the Nikola Mirotic-Bobby Portis scuffle on Oct. 17. The team suspended Portis for eight games and Mirotic is still at least a month away from returning to the team as he recovers from facial injuries he suffered in the fight.
As of late, reports have been circulating from Mirotic’s camp that the player himself is perhaps open to waiving his no-trade clause for a fresh start elsewhere. While Paxson did not directly comment on potential trade talks, he did address how the team is working through the Mirotic-Portis aftermath and what steps are next, writes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
“I’m not going to get into any specifics about what discussions we have had with any agents and players. What I do want to say is we’re really sensitive to this entire issue and what Niko is going through physically and mentally. We’re trying to be sensitive to him,” Paxson said.
“We don’t have all the answers today. But just like in anything, as an organization we have to do what’s in our best interests. That’s the bottom line. And so we will.
“We understand what he’s going through. We have to be patient. It’s not something that’s going to be resolved overnight. We’re going to continue to communicate with Niko and his representatives and find our way through this. It’s very important for us to do what’s in our best interest.”
Does Paxson think the players can co-exist moving forward if the organization doesn’t trade either player?
“I don’t have that answer right now. I really don’t,” Paxson said. “Your hope is that as time goes on, there can be some communication where it gets resolved. But this is a unique situation. It really is. That’s why I say we don’t have all the answers today and not sure where it’s exactly going to go.
“But we’re supportive of Niko and what he’s going through. We support Bobby too. He’s a part of our team. You sit here in my position, Gar (Forman’s) position, ownership’s position and you see it’s a distraction. But we also have to keep these young guys focused on what they’re doing. And they’re playing games right now and trying to get better every day.”
Paxson also addressed the issue of Mirotic’s camp feeling like his plight is not being fully understood by the Bulls, writes Johnson:
“I would disagree with that,” Paxson said. “We’ve reached out to Niko. Our medical staff is in contact with him every day. We want to get him back. He’s been cleared to do some light physical things like ride a bike. We’re trying to schedule with him how to do that because he has to do that under our supervision. We’re being really sensitive to this. So that’s a hard one.
“There’s always two sides. In doling out the punishment to Bobby, that’s fairly unprecedented too what we did. Like I told you last week, we consulted with the league to make sure we were going about it the right way. We’re confident with what we did. I’ve never been in Niko’s position where something like that happens. We are trying to understand it and work with him and his people. But we can’t just do something for the sake of doing it. It has to be in our best interest too.”