Bulls: Nikola Mirotic still going through concussion protocol


Bulls: Nikola Mirotic still going through concussion protocol

Nikola Mirotic, who suffered a concussion Wednesday, is still going through the league's protocol and his status is unclear for tonight's game against the Hornets.

Fred Hoiberg said Saturday morning at the team's shootaround that Mirotic, who missed practice Friday but was seen shooting jumpers during the portion of the shootaround open to media, will undergo more tests tonight at the United Center to determine whether he can suit up.

"This is the first concussion that we’ve dealt with and obviously he’s got to go through the protocol and we’ll see how he progresses," Hoiberg said. "But he feels good."

If Mirotic is unable to go, Joakim Noah would be the likely replacement in the starting lineup. After Mirotic was knocked out of Wednesday's game by an inadvertent elbow from Emmanuel Mudiay in the first quarter, Noah played a season-high 34 minutes, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Saturday would be his first start of the year and would come at a time in which he's playing his best basketball. After a turbulent start Noah has averaged 11 rebounds and two blocks in his last two games, and he handed out a season-high seven assists in Monday's win over the Spurs.

"I think it’s been a little bit up and down but I’m still trying to figure it out," Noah said of his play. "Just stay positive and just keep my focus on what I can control and overall I think I’m in a good place and I’ve got to keep building.

"I feel really good. Actually I feel better than in training camp. I feel like my body usually takes 10-15 games to get my body right, get used to the pounding, but I feel pretty good."

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Point guard Kirk Hinrich is on track to play Saturday after missing the last two games with a hip injury.

If Mirotic is unable to play it'd be a brief setback for a Bulls team still searching for consistency. Though they lead the Eastern Conference by percentage points over Cleveland, Hoiberg and the Bulls know there's plenty of work to be done. They still rank among the worst in the league in offensive efficiency, Derrick Rose has yet to really get going and they now face a Charlotte team that handed the Bulls their worst loss of the season last month.

And while Hoiberg's up-tempo philosophies and schemes are still relatively new, veteran leadership has made that transition an easier one and led to victories, even when the Bulls aren't playing their best basketball.

"It’s been a really good group of guys to be around. I lean on those guys a lot. I talk to him during the games," Hoiberg said. "'What are you seeing out there?' I know the guys on the floor, sometimes they’ll see something and we’ll go out and run it.

"And when you have a good group and veteran guys that are bought in it makes your job pretty easy. So I’ve been really happy with how these guys have responded, how they’ve gone out and worked and how they’ve gotten better. Hopefully we’ll continue on that trend."

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack. 

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls


Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.