Nikola Mirotic back in practice, talking to everyone except Bobby Portis
Nikola Mirotic’s return to the Chicago Bulls practice facility has come with a mist of turbulence, as the veteran forward has gotten back to his normal routine without addressing the elephant in the room.
The elephant, by the name of Bobby Portis, is the only person Mirotic hasn’t spoken to since getting back to the facility, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
“Obviously Niko and Bobby have not talked,” Hoiberg said before Tuesday’s practice. “Niko has had interaction with the other players. We’ll continue to work on it. Niko’s going to continue to come in here and get his work in. Continue to ramp up his workload and hopefully be cleared for more on-court activity soon. But to this point no, there has been no communication with Bobby and Niko.”
The Bulls organization has been mired in this problem since Portis connected a right hand into Mirotic’s face during the last practice before the start of the season, warranting an eight-game suspension while Mirotic suffered a facial fracture and was ruled out four-to-six weeks.
Starting center Robin Lopez said he’s spoken to Mirotic and knows that his teammate wants “to be back with the guys,” but the two have yet to speak. Lopez said he hasn’t been asked to facilitate a conversation between both players.
“I’ve talked to Niko a few times,” he said before Tuesday’s practice. “I went out to dinner with him and Cris [Felicio], but I’m not going to divulge anything about [those conversations]. He told me that stuff in confidence.”
Mirotic isn’t eligible to be traded until Jan. 15, which can likely present a very awkward situation in the locker room, unless the two can make amends in the very near future.