There was a sight for sore eyes in the Advocate Center during Bulls practice, as Nikola Mirotic was in the building with his teammates for the first time in a long time.
But it appears to be more of a function of the Bulls’ urging than Mirotic coming around on his stance with Bobby Portis, as it’ll be four weeks to the day on Tuesday from being punched by Portis at practice on Oct. 17.
The original timeline from his concussion and broken facial bones injury was four-to-six weeks.
Mirotic was in the training room and lifting weights while his teammates were starting their usual practice routine. Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said they’re trying to integrate Mirotic back into the fold, but Mirotic’s stance about wanting to be traded or wanting Portis to be traded hasn’t changed.
“Niko is in the building and has started to come around a little more,” Paxson said. “We’re still in the process of trying to work through everything. As I said last week, he’s still under contract. Both him and Bobby are.”
Paxson almost admitted Mirotic’s request hasn’t been altered, and that the Bulls aren’t in a position to accommodate Mirotic just because.
“Like I said last week, I’m not going to really talk about anything that’s been asked of us,” Paxson said. “The reality is that you just can’t move a guy for the sake of moving him. We’re going to have to do what’s in our best interests first and foremost. That’s how we’re going about it day-to-day. Both Niko and Bobby are on our roster right now. And Niko’s getting cleared to do more and more. This obviously is coming to a position where it’s going to have to be resolved between the two.”
Mirotic has been in the Advocate Center over the past couple weeks, but it hasn’t been with teammates in the building. He’s done light activities with supervision from some staff members during off-hours, but it appears the Bulls want him around during their business hours.
Even if the Bulls were to trade Mirotic, it couldn’t be until January 15 at the earliest and Mirotic would ideally have to be in some form of basketball shape for his next team.
So from his standpoint, doing the treadmill work, weightlifting and light shooting is probably a priority anyways.
It doesn’t make the situation any less difficult to navigate, however.
“I think what has to be understood is that we weren’t going to be in a position to continuously accommodate those needs,” Paxson said. “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 him to start coming around more. And it is on him to do that.”
And it opens the door for Portis and Mirotic to cross paths in the Advocate Center, although Paxson admitted there’s no plan to get the two teammates in the same space to reconcile anything.
Portis said it isn’t awkward to see Mirotic back in the building considering all that’s transpired and that if Mirotic approached him he would be okay with it.
“I'd react normal. I'm a normal guy. I'm a guy that's a high character guy, low maintenance guy. I'd welcome him in with open arms,” Portis said. “Always good to have him in the same building. Gotta try to get things back to normal.”
Mirotic hasn’t answered texts from Portis or voice mails in the meantime.
“That’s the thing we’ve been really trying to get to,” Paxson said. “But you can understand the difficulty of that. But we’ve had discussions with him and representatives. But it’s something we’re still trying to work through. We don’t have an answer for that yet.”
Paxson views this situation as one he hopes will have a resolution between the two parties, even though the complications stretch long and far.
“They are adults. This is our workplace,” Paxson said. “They’re both part of the team. I think it’s pretty simple.”