Bobby Portis is thriving on the court since returning from an eight-game, team-issued suspension for punching Nikola Mirotic in the face during practice. Mirotic is still recovering from the injury he suffered, the distinction a sore spot for him.
Now, Bulls executive John Paxson is turning up the heat on Mirotic, who’s back in Chicago’s facility to train.
“I think what has to be understood is that we weren’t going to be in a position to continuously accommodate those needs,” Paxson said. “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.”
And it opens the door for Portis and Mirotic to cross paths in the Advocate Center, although Paxson admitted there’s no plan to get the two teammates in the same space to reconcile anything.
Portis said it isn’t awkward to see Mirotic back in the building considering all that’s transpired and that if Mirotic approached him he would be okay with it.
“I’d react normal. I’m a normal guy. I’m a guy that’s a high character guy, low maintenance guy. I’d welcome him in with open arms,” Portis said. “Always good to have him in the same building. Gotta try to get things back to normal.”
Mirotic hasn’t answered texts from Portis or voice mails in the meantime.
This can’t be easy for Mirotic. It probably isn’t fair to him.
But it’s reality. One way or another, he must deal with it.
The Bulls can’t trade Mirotic until Jan. 15. The way Portis is playing, they might not want to trade him at all. Two months are a long time for this situation to linger. Hence, Paxson is warning Mirotic now.