Nikola Mirotic has still lost his starting power forward position to Lauri Markkanen. He still hasn’t had a sitdown with Bobby Portis, although the language of basketball on the practice court Monday surely had to have been spoken. Regardless, Mirotic’s return to practice for the first time since Portis punched him in the face on Oct. 17 is another step towards recovery, normal or not. “There will have to be some interaction at some point obviously now that they’re out there playing together. They’ll be on the same team and playing against each other (in practice),” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “So it is important to get those guys communicating, which I think we’re all confident will happen.” Hoiberg said how Mirotic responds to contact will determine when he’s activated. But with plans for Mirotic to travel for Thursday’s game in Denver, that’s imminent. So is a plan for Mirotic to address reporters for the first time since Portis broke two facial bones and concussed him, drawing an eight-game suspension. As for if and when he responds to Portis’ apology, well, like the rebuild, that could be a work in progress. “I think it might have to happen naturally, honestly,” Robin Lopez said. “When you’re out on the basketball court, you’ve got to talk to each other.” Most any workplace features co-workers who might not like each other. Asked if he ever had a teammate he didn’t like personally but still played with, Robin, in perfect deadpan fashion, answered “Brook Lopez.” More seriously, with Mirotic having previously communicated to management that he didn’t want to share a locker room with Portis and Mirotic not eligible to be traded until Jan. 15, this could be a situation where the language of basketball is enough for awhile. “It’s hard to say. I think that’s a possibility,” Lopez said. “If everything is going well on the court, they’re doing their jobs, performing their duties, I don’t see why not. I would hope that it would go beyond that. But if it comes to that, I think it’s typical.
Nikola Mirotic practices with Bulls for 1st time since the Oct. 17 punch
Chicago Tribune | Nov 27