Chicago Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic was at practice Monday for the first time since his altercation with Bobby Portis, but apparently still isn’t on speaking terms with 22-year-old forward.
Portis punched Mirotic in the face during a scuffle in practice that sent MIrotic to the hospital as he suffered maxillary fractures and a concussion. The Bulls then suspended Portis for eight games to start the season. Mirotic still hasn’t fully practiced with the team.
Portis told the Chicago Tribune Monday that before practice he “still hadn’t talked to Mirotic, who has told management he doesn’t want to share a locker room with Portis.”
“I’d react normal,” Portis said, when asked what he would do if Mirotic approached him. “I’m a normal guy. I’m a high-character guy, low-maintenance guy. I’d welcome him in with open arms.”
On Monday, Mirotic was seen sitting in the trainer’s room and lifting weights as his teammates practiced on the hardwood at the Advocate Center. Mirotic has started light shooting, conditioning and weight lifting, per the Chicago Tribune.
“The timeline for him getting back is all how he’s feeling and recovering from what he went through,” Executive vice president John Paxson told the Chicago Tribune. “He obviously has to get his conditioning up to a level that he needs to. That’s all a process for him.”
Mirotic remains upset enough over the disparity in time of absences that he has had little contact with teammates, and his camp has made clear to management that, for now, it doesn’t see a way the two forwards can coexist.
Mirotic is in his fourth NBA season and Portis was the Bulls’ 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. In Portis’ first public comments after the fight, he said he called and texted Mirotic but did not get a response back.
“It’s not awkward for me,” Portis said on Monday. “I’m just out here trying to play ball. I’m really not worried about the situation anymore, just trying to have a good season. Always good to have (Mirotic) in the same building. Got to try to get things back to normal.”