The Chicago Bulls are about to take the next step in the awkward aftermath of their Oct. 17 practice altercation.
Suspended forward Bobby Portis is eligible to play for the first time this season on Tuesday at Toronto. Portis was docked eight games for punching teammate Nikola Mirotic.
Portis has been practicing with the team, so it should be a relatively smooth process to have the third-year forward back on the active roster.
"That will all discussed here in the next couple days exactly what we're going to do in the Toronto game," coach Fred Hoiberg said after Saturday's overtime loss to New Orleans.
Things get more complicated when considering there has been no confirmed contact between Mirotic and Portis, and Mirotic has not been around teammates at the Advocate Center. Mirotic suffered facial fractures and a concussion from the incident and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said the Bulls will proceed in the best interest of the team, but it seems likely they'll try to trade Portis before Mirotic is healthy enough to play.
"He's working extremely hard," Hoiberg said of Portis. "Bobby's been getting a lot of extra work in, before and after practice. We'll get him a lot of reps (in practice). He's a competitive kid and I know he's excited to get back."
Valentine dials from distance:
In his second NBA season, it still appears Denzel Valentine's best skill is long-range shooting. He leads the Bulls in 3-point percentage at .413 and was 7-for-13 in the last two games.
"Taking and making big shots is what I feel comfortable doing," Valentine said after scoring a season-high 16 points against the Pelicans. "I don't consider that my stamp in the NBA. I consider me as a playmaker and a guy who just takes his open looks and makes his shots."
Valentine's playmaking track record is mixed. He has had no assists in four games this season. In the other four contests, he has averaged nearly 4 per game.
In today's NBA, 3-point shooting is a pretty valuable skill.
"Yeah, it's very valuable," Valentine said. "I don't want to label myself as a 3-point shooter because I feel like I have a lot more aspects of my game that go appreciated -- defense, rebounding, making plays for other people, leadership -- a lot of different things. But 3-point is huge, and if I can knock that down it will keep me on the floor."
Dunn with turnovers:
Kris Dunn returned from a finger injury this week but has not yet taken over the starting job.
One reason -- too many turnovers. He has averaged 4.3 per game, and per minute played Dunn is one of the league's worst at giving up the ball.
"We've got to do a better job of making simple plays," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "A lot of times we're trying to squeeze the ball into tight spaces when it's not there. A few times (Dunn tried) just simple plays that got deflected. So we need to do better."
Starter Jerian Grant bounced back from some poor shooting games to deliver 13 points, 9 assists and no turnovers against New Orleans.
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