Nikola Mirotic won’t play for the Bulls for the immediate future

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CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 26: Nikola Mirotic #44 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 26, 2018 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

PORTLAND – On Wednesday, it appeared that things were going to be back to normal for Nikola Mirotic. Well, as normal as normal could be for these circumstances.

A trade that was in place to send the Bulls forward to the Pelicans on Tuesday, one that was so certain that Mirotic left the team early in their practice at the Advocate Center, fell apart as the forward reportedly vetoed the trade.

But at shootaround, Mirotic and head coach Fred Hoiberg were still discussing how the forward would continue to come off the bench against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. Considering that Mirotic is averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebound a game, that didn’t seem to be a surprise even if a trade somewhere else was expected.

Yet a few hours later, the Bulls reversed course.

The team announced in Portland that Mirotic will not play on Wednesday night against the Trail Blazers and won’t be in the lineup for the immediate future. That likely means that Mirotic is out until at least the February 8th NBA trade deadline.

Mirotic wasn’t going to be in the starting lineup regardless as it was announced that Paul Zipzer would be sliding into the lineup with Lauri Markkanen out for personal reasons. Instead, the forward remained at the team hotel in Portland as they lost to the Trail Blazers 124-108.

“I got a call today and the decision was made to not play Niko tonight,” said Hoiberg to reporters before the game on Wednesday. “So that’s all I know at this point. We’ll see how the night goes and then reassess everything tomorrow.”

The team has few days on the West Coast to do so since they don’t play again till the face the Clippers at the Staples Center Saturday afternoon. In the meantime, the Bulls can either trade Mirotic, send him back to Chicago, or change course and put him back in the lineup.

Either way, it adds another unusual chapter to Mirotic’s saga during the 2017-2018 season.

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