Bulls

Nikola Mirotic apologizes for missing walkthrough, is confused about benching

Nikola Mirotic apologizes for missing walkthrough, is confused about benching

Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic missed the team’s afternoon walkthrough Friday before their game against the Milwaukee Bucks, telling team officials he forgot about the walkthough.

“I came late for our meeting here, I apologized to the teammates and coaches,” Mirotic said.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Mirotic, who did not play Thursday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, wasn’t excused.

“Niko was in early this morning. He was the first guy in the gym getting in extra work,” Hoiberg said. “I had a good meeting with him. Obviously we don't know the circumstances yet [of missing walkthrough], but I'll talk to him as soon as I'm done with this (media) session here.”

Being that it was the first “DNP- Coach’s Decision” of Mirotic’s career, and followed by him missing the walkthrough, the question of it being an act of defiance is natural.

Mirotic said the initial benching was surprising, the first bold move Hoiberg has made this season.

“No, I’m not that kind of guy,” Mirotic said after the Bulls’ 95-69 loss to the Bucks, as he was the only healthy Bull who didn’t play. “Even if things are not how I’d like them to be, I’m a professional. It’s not my first year here. Those guys respect me, I respect them, I wouldn’t do anything like that. I just forgot. Just (stuff) happens.”

Mirotic has been known as a team guy even through his struggles, so one can write off the incident as bad timing after what was sure to be a frustrating night.

Mirotic was replaced by Bobby Portis in the rotation in Thursday’s loss to the Bucks, and only scored in double figures one time in seven December games.

On the heels of shooting 34 percent this month and 22 percent from 3, the optics of a struggling player missing a team workout certainly makes it look worse.

“It’s been difficult,” Mirotic said. “First time in my career this is happening but it’s the coach’s decision and I gotta respect that. There’s not too much I can say about that.”

Hoiberg said it was a fineable offense, and after the two talked Friday morning at the Advocate Center, Hoiberg felt Mirotic was in a good place — relatively.

“He was as good as he can be in a situation like that,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously, any competitor isn't going to be happy when you get taken out of a lineup. But talking to him about keeping himself ready ... It was good to see him in there this morning getting in extra work and getting up extra shots, keeping himself prepared when his name was called, and that's what we talked about.

“Obviously he's going to get another chance this year. He's got to keep working, keep himself ready, and when opportunity comes, go out and play well.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and draft impact on the Bulls

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and draft impact on the Bulls

Mark Schanowski is joined by Will Perdue and Mark Strotman to preview the NBA draft.

0:50       Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and expectations for the Lakers

3:20       What’s next for the Lakers?

4:15       Is the ‘3-star’ approach the right way to win a title?

6:55       Were Bulls even close to trading Zach LaVine? Would a trade for Ball have been a positive?

10:45    On the best type of point guard to pair with LaVine and rumors on Darius Garland

14:08    Would Coby White be a good fit for the Bulls?

16:55    On the potential wings available at 7

18:50    Perdue on Reddish upside

19:35    Concern over the ‘low-motor’ red flag with Reddish, are Bulls able to take a risk?

22:30    On finding a point guard in free agency

24:10    Predictions for Bulls at 7

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Kirk Hinrich sent U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland into basketball retirement

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AP

Kirk Hinrich sent U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland into basketball retirement

U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland used to be a basketball star. Then he ran into Kirk Hinrich.

Woodland, who won the 119th U.S. Open Championship on Sunday at Pebble Beach, shared a story about how he transitioned from basketball to golf.

Woodland was attending Washburn University in Kansas, and as a freshman in 2002 he and the Ichabods played the Kansas Jayhawks in an exhibition game.

It was during that game - a 101-66 Kansas victory - that Woodland said he realized he wasn't going to make it as a hooper.

"That decision got forced on me,” Woodland told reporters after his U.S. Open victory. "I had to guard Kirk Hinrich, and I realized, I’m going to have to do something else."

No one can blame Woodland for feeling that way. That Jayhawks team went on to win 30 games and, behind Hinrich and Nick Collison, advanced to the national championship game where they lost to freshman star Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse.

Hinrich went on to become the 7th overall pick in the historic 2003 NBA Draft and played 13 NBA seasons with the Bulls, Hawks and Wizards.

Woodland, ironically, transferred to the University of Kansas as a sophomore and joined the golf team. The rest is history for the major championship winner.