Chicago Bulls big man Nikola Mirotic has returned to practice after suffering a facial fracture during an altercation with Bobby Portis.
Mirotic, who also suffered a concussion, has not yet appeared in a game this season following the incident – though Portis has returned the team following a suspension. According to head coach Fred Hoiberg, Mirotic is ignoring Portis. The two have not spoken since before the season began on Oct. 17.
Portis has said he immediately texted and called Mirotic but did not receive a response. Portis, 22, also made it clear he believes the two can co-exist on the same roster.
Joe Cowley, a reporter for the team, recently speculated that those in the locker room favor Portis (via Chicago Sun-Times):
“Portis tried to reach out to Mirotic via text and in a message but received no response. That’s why players say it’s obvious that Mirotic, 26, has to go. The feeling is Portis has done his part to repair things, and he’s seen as someone who has put in all the work this summer and is a better teammate. Plus, he’s just more liked by his teammates.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Mirotic had “little contact” with his other teammates while he was away from the squad. Robin Lopez, who is in the starting lineup for the Bulls, said he had dinner with Mirotic but has not been asked to arrange a meeting between the two parties.
John Paxson, the President of Basketball Operations for Chicago, said Mirotic needs to be with the Bulls as they practice as he is currently under contract.
Mirotic, who has a no-trade clause, was re-signed during the offseason which means he cannot be traded until January 15.