Nikola Mirotic works out at Chicago Bulls' practice facility
NBA.com staff reports
The fallout from the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic scuffle has yet to be fully realized for the Chicago Bulls. As the team awaits Portis’ return from his eight-game suspension next week, there remains much to be sorted out for the future of both players — including whether or not they can be teammates again.
The Bulls begin a two-game Florida road swing tonight in Miami (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass), which was apparently a prime time for Mirotic to make his first trip to the team practice facility since the scuffle. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has more on what may be next in the Mirotic-Portis issue:
Nikola Mirotic visited the Advocate Center on Wednesday for his first supervised, light workout since Bobby Portis punched him in the face on Oct. 17, breaking two facial bones and causing a concussion.
That Mirotic worked out after the Bulls departed for a two-game trip beginning Wednesday in Miami—even factoring in the possibility he had previous morning obligations—only adds to the widespread belief that the two power forwards will have difficulty co-existing moving forward.
Multiple outlets, including the Tribune, reported last week that Mirotic’s camp informed management he wouldn’t veto a trade and that the situation is playing out towards a “me or him” resolution.
“It’s tough,” Robin Lopez said. “It’s only been once or twice I’ve talked to him. It’s hard for us to say what kind of place he’s in. I think the best we can do is just reach out to him and let him know we’re here for him if he needs anything from us.
“I think Bobby is still very sorry for what he did. I know he’s hoping Niko comes back 110, 150 percent. He’s been working hard in here and trying to earn back that trust. We all love having him back on the team. We want Niko back too.”
Hoiberg confirmed the timeline for Mirotic’s return remains at four to six weeks and could actually be longer.
“With recovery still probably a good six weeks away, just to get back in here and get moving and sweating is an important first step,” Hoiberg said.
Lopez admitted the incident has been a disappointing aspect to an otherwise positive and upbeat start to the rebuild.
“Other than supporting both those guys, I think as a group we’ve kind of put it behind us,” he said. “We’re focusing on the court now.”
But sources said last week that neither the organization publicizing Mirotic’s role in the altercation nor allowing Portis to practice during his suspension sat well with Mirotic’s camp. After all, Mirotic also has to regain his conditioning and confidence and decide if he’ll wear a mask when he’s cleared physically.
Throughout last season, as his restricted free agency loomed, Mirotic made clear he wanted to remain in Chicago because of his and his family’s comfort level. That stance didn’t change as Mirotic drew little interest in free agency, eventually signing a two-year, $27 million deal that contains a team option and thus Mirotic’s trade veto power.
At least for now, Mirotic, who can’t be traded until Jan. 15, is open to anything that gets him on a different team than Portis. His road to recovery—and the Bulls’—remains long.
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