(CBS) For the first time since he was concussed and suffered two facial fractures from teammate Bobby Portis’ punch on Oct. 17, Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic was present at the Advocate Center on Monday while the rest of the team practiced.
Mirotic still hasn’t been cleared for contact, so he wasn’t set to participate, instead lifting weights early on. And most notably, as of late Monday morning when the Bulls spoke with the media before practice, he hadn’t had contact with Portis either. Mirotic remains upset by the altercation that has dealt a huge setback to his season and has informed management that he doesn’t want to be teammates with Portis, who served a team-imposed eight-game suspension before returning last Tuesday.
Previously, Mirotic had been working at the Advocate Center during off hours when Portis and the rest of the team weren’t scheduled to be there.
“What has to be understood is that we weren’t going to be in a position to continuously accommodate those needs,” executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said of Mirotic’s situation and return to the team, according to the Chicago Tribune. “When he started to get healthy, because he’s on our roster, it’s incumbent on him to be around when the team’s around. That’s just a part of it. I look at it this way: We want to start coming around more. And it is on him to do that.”
Mirotic can’t be traded until Jan. 15 after agreeing to a two-year, $27-million deal just before training camp that includes a team option on the second year. Mirotic has been doing biking and pool work. He also just started shooting and more conditioning work.
The timeline for Mirotic’s return remains unclear. The Bulls initially ruled him out four to six weeks, and Tuesday brings the four-week mark. His return to action is dependent on “how he’s feeling and recovering,” Paxson said.
As for Portis, he said he’d “react normal” when it’s time to talk with Mirotic again.
“I’m a high-character guy, low-maintenance guy, I’d welcome him in with open arms,” Portis said, according to the Tribune.