Rookie wonder Lauri Markkanen was aching. Back spasms. No go against the Celtics. Ouch, babe.

So, Nikola Mirotic was given the start Monday and, whoa, look at that, he promptly poured in 24 points to lead the Bulls to a surprising 108-85 rout over a Celtics team missing Kyrie Irving.

And so, the Bulls bring us to that hung jury of a feeling I experienced when I wanted Mitch Trubisky to play well but not well enough to save John Fox’s job. In the Bulls’ case, I hate to see them win games when the plan has been to lose enough to corner the market on ping-pong balls, but Monday night was an acceptable outcome looking ahead to Jan. 15. That’s the next date that matters because that’s the first day the collective bargaining rules allow Mirotic and his new contract to be traded.

And the first date that he must be traded. The fight his face lost with Bobby Portis revealed the locker room sides with the one-punch winner. The loser has to go.

Lucky enough, the loser has doing his best to make that happen.

In his last two games, his second and third after coming back from having Portis bust him up, Mirotic has scored 43 points on 15-for-24 shooting, 8-for-15 from beyond the arc.

So, yeah, Mirotic is playing well enough to get traded, and he’s doing it on schedule. That’s why Jan. 15 has to hurry up and get here. Otherwise, the rest of the NBA might figure out that this will be the best Mirotic will play. You could look it up.