- Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis got into a fight in October that sent Mirotic to the hospital with a concussion and facial fractures.
- Mirotic returned to the team on Monday but will not speak to Portis.
- The situation is ugly and awkward as the Bulls hope time will heal the wounds.
Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis are both back with the Chicago Bulls, but that hasn’t eased any awkwardness stemming from their early-season altercation.
Mirotic and Portis got into a fight during a practice in October. Portis punched Mirotic, sending him to a hospital with a concussion and several facial fractures. The team suspended Portis for eight games after the incident.
Mirotic returned to the team on Monday but has not spoken with Portis despite being at the Bulls facilities to work out as he gets back into game shape. He hasn’t resumed basketball activities yet.
The situation has created a sense of awkwardness around the team, as the Bulls hope Mirotic will eventually come around.
“Niko has had interaction with the other players and we’ll continue to work on getting (Portis and Mirotic) together. Hopefully, that will happen soon,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said (via K.C Johnson of The Chicago Tribune).
He added, “But to this point, no, there’s been no communication with Bobby and Niko.”
Mirotic has reportedly told Bulls management to trade either him or Portis because he doesn’t want to play with Portis. Mirotic can’t be traded until January 15 because he signed a two-year, $27 million deal over the offseason, and the Bulls are hoping the situation will settle itself over time.
“It’s a very difficult situation,” center Robin Lopez said, adding: “I’m going to do what I can to help both of them. But also I’ve got to help the team. We’ve got to play basketball.”
Portis has played well since returning from suspension, averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. Portis said that he reached out to Mirotic while Mirotic was away from the team, but never heard back. He said he would gladly talk to Mirotic if Mirotic reached out to him.
The Bulls’ options are limited going forward. Unless Mirotic and Portis work out their differences, the situation will linger over the team during every practice and game. When Mirotic is healthy and ready to play, will he not be able to share the floor with Portis? The rebuilding Bulls could look to trade one of them for an asset or needed veteran leader, but their leverage will be low, since the rest of the NBA is aware of the ugly situation.