CHICAGO — The Nikola Mirotic–Bobby Portis dilemma got even more awkward on Monday, as Mirotic returned to the Chicago Bulls’ facility and rejoined his teammates — but of course, avoided Portis.
Mirotic and Portis were involved in a practice fight which resulted in multiple facial fractures for Mirotic, who also suffered a concussion. The Spaniard bypassed surgery and is conducting light workouts in the training room, but has not reconnected with Portis and doesn’t want to share a locker room with him moving forward.
Representatives from Mirotic’s camp have told the Bulls that either Mirotic or Portis must be gone once Mirotic is cleared to play.
Portis, who is averaging 19.3 points and 10.0 rebounds since serving his eight-game suspension, says he’d welcome Mirotic back but has no future plans to reach out to him after his text message and apology were slighted.
“I’d react normal,” Portis told the Chicago Tribune. “I’m a normal guy. I’m a high character guy, low maintenance guy. I’d welcome him in with open arms.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bulls players are siding with Portis and view Mirotic’s ultimatum as dead weight. The feeling within the franchise is Portis has done everything right to try and repair his relationship with Mirotic.
Bulls executive vice president John Paxson hinted to the Chicago Tribune that the days of accommodating Mirotic are essentially over.
“What has to be understood is that we weren’t going to be in a position to continuously accommodate those needs,” Paxson said of Mirotic previously working out after hours and away from the team. “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. They are adults. This is our workplace. They’re both part of the team. I think it’s pretty simple.”
Mirotic signed a two-year, $27 million deal to remain with the Bulls over the summer and his contract gives him the power to veto any trade — which is unlikely to occur since it’s clear Mirotic wants to leave town if the Bulls keep Portis.
Chicago has already exercised the fourth-year option on Portis.