It’s been a rough year for Nikola Mirotic.
Despite the Bulls’ abundant need for his outside shooting, he lost a competition to Taj Gibson to start at power forward. Mirotic has struggled to shoot off the bench, and he even got a DNP-CD in Chicago’s loss to Milwaukee on Thursday.
And then prior to the re-match against Milwaukee…
Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic missed the team’s afternoon walkthrough Friday before their game against the Milwaukee Bucks, telling team officials he forgot about the walkthough.
“I came late for our meeting here, I apologized to the teammates and coaches,” Mirotic said.
Being that it was the first “DNP- Coach’s Decision” of Mirotic’s career, and followed by him missing the walkthrough, the question of it being an act of defiance is natural.
“No, I’m not that kind of guy,” Mirotic said after the Bulls’ 95-69 loss to the Bucks, as he was the only healthy Bull who didn’t play. “Even if things are not how I’d like them to be, I’m a professional. It’s not my first year here. Those guys respect me, I respect them, I wouldn’t do anything like that. I just forgot. Just (stuff) happens.”
Hoiberg said it was a fineable offense
If this is an isolated incident, everyone can move on. An otherwise responsible player forgetting about a single walkthrough is not the end of the world.
But the concern is that it’s part of a larger pattern – whether Mirotic’s play is the cause or symptom.
The Bulls need Mirotic in the rotation. Fred Hoiberg benching him in the first place wasn’t in the answer. The subsequent benching might have been a reasonable punishment. But in the long run, Chicago must find a way to maximize Mirotic and his shooting.