Working Nikola Mirotic back into practice is a slow process for the Bulls
CHICAGO – It’s become so much a soap opera over the last month, the drama deserves a name.
“As The Bulls Turn” – that would work for this situation. Monday featured another twist in this sordid drama featuring Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic.
The latter, who absorbed a punch from the forward, was seen working out at the Advocate Center with his teammates during the open media portion of practice.
For the record, Mirotic was doing most of his work on the weights or in the training room during the session open to the media. The rest of the team, including Portis, were on the floor.
"That's gonna take some time," said Bulls executive vice president John Paxson, who spoke to reporters on the occasion of Mirotic being around the practice. "He's not ready to do any basketball activities yet other than he's done some light shooting or that type of thing.
"He's working on his conditioning. This is still a process that we're trying to work through but as you can tell he's around the building and around the team."
Physically here is there, and that is a step considering the ugly incident that took place on October 17th on the same floor. As far as things being back to normal, that's going to take some time.
Portis said he's yet to talk with Mirotic about the incident and didn't know when he would.
"I'll react normal. I'll act like a normal guy," said Portis when asked how he would react if and when he spoke to Mirotic. "Like I said, I'm a guy that's a high character guy and a low maintenance guy. I'll welcome him in with open arms."
According to Paxson, however, that won't be on Mirotic's terms. He's only taking part in workouts to build up endurance with some light shooting, but once healthy the forward is expected to become a functioning member of the game.
His feelings for Portis, or demands made or not made for a trade, will be irrelevant.
"What has to be understood is that we weren't going in a position to continuously accommodate those needs," said Paxson of Mirotic. "I mean when he started to get healthy, because he's on our roster, its incombant for him to be around when the team's around. That's just apart of it. We want him to start coming around more and it is on him to do that."
Getting rid of Portis to keep Mirotic wouldn't seem like the right move, considering the third-year forward has averaged 19 points and ten rebounds a game. A small sample size, sure, yet don't think the Bulls will be quick to accommodate Mirotic should he make it an "Him or Me" choice for the team.
"You can't just move a guy for the sake of moving a guy. We mentioned last week that we continue to operate that we're going to do what's in our best interest first and foremost," said Paxson. "That's how we're going about it day-to-day. Both Niko and Bobby our on our roster right now and Niko is getting cleared to do more and more so obviously it's coming to a position where it's going to have to be resolved between the two."
Hence the soap opera continues. "As the Bulls Turn" figures to have a few more twists before it's all said and done.