CHICAGO – Seeing him shooting at the United Center on Tuesday morning, along with the words of Fred Hoiberg, maybe it seemed as if his much-anticipated return to the Bulls’ lineup would be quite soon.
After all, the Bulls head coach said Nikola Mirotic would join the team on their quick road trip to Denver late Tuesday night and into Wednesday.
A day of full 5-on-5 contact work with the Bulls on Monday, however, seems to have figuratively checked the breaks on a quick return for the forward since getting decked by Bobby Portis during a practice on October 17th.
Instead of heading to the “Mile High” city Wednesday, Mirotic is staying in the Windy City, or going there to be more specific.
Mirotic along with Zach LaVine, who continues his long rehab from a torn ACL, will workout with the Windy City Bulls over the next week to continue their game conditioning. Hoiberg said that team will hold their practices at the Advocate Center in a busy stretch of games for the Bulls.
“He’s really sore today,” said head coach Fred Hoiberg on Tuesday at Bulls’ shootaround as Mirotic and LaVine continues to workout behind him on the United Center floor. “Zach is really sore today, really after their first 5-on-5 action. Overall, it’s just general body soreness, which is a good thing, and important first step to getting those guys ready to get back on the floor.”
Hence the Bulls don’t have much interest in rushing Mirotic back into the lineup and why a few days of workouts with Windy City could actually be for the best.
“Get a couple of really solid hard practices in with them, that’s important for those guys right now and we just don’t have a lot of practice time with all the games that we’re playing that are right on top of each other,” said Hoiberg.
While Mirotic’s drama involving his injury has garnered the most attention, LaVine quietly continues to make steady progress as he enters a nearly year-long recovery process for his ACL tear in February. Hoiberg said that a return towards the end of December is more realistic for the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota rather than a couple of weeks.
“He’s had three really good days with us since he’s been cleared for full contact. It started out in San Francisco, he was able to play 3-on-3,” said Hoiberg of LaVine. “Then he came back and had a really good 1-on-1 session. But when you get out there, 5-on-5, and you’ve got to be in the right spots, both offensively and defensively, it’s a whole new thing for him.”
Meanwhile there is still no set time for a return for Mirotic, as the wait continues for he and the organization after a rough start to the 2017-2018 season.