Nikola Mirotic is wrapping up his recovery from facial fractures and a concussion he suffered prior to the start of the season during an altercation with Chicago Bulls teammate Bobby Portis. And, by his own words, he isn’t angry at anyone—not anymore.
All is well in Chicago.
Except, not totally.
From the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson:
With his season debut imminent, likely on Friday, Nikola Mirotic is positive.
“I’m not angry at anyone,” Mirotic said. “I’m doing fine with myself. My family is great. There’s nothing to be angry about now. It’s all over. It’s a new beginning.”
The first “it” refers, of course, to Mirotic missing his 23rd straight game Wednesday because Bobby Portis concussed him and broke two facial bones with a punch on Oct. 17. Both players have made clear they will remain professional on the court but haven’t discussed the incident off it. They did exchange fist bumps on the bench during Wednesdays game with the Pacers as Mirotic dressed for the first time this season.
The exchange of fist bumps is, in basketball circles, a great sign. Right?
Mirotic’s frustration over the situation has no doubt subsided. He’s now had months to process everything, and you know what they say about time healing all things. He also said near the end of November that he accepted Portis’ apology, another good sign.
But this might not be something Mirotic, Portis and the Bulls can just put behind. If Mirotic returns on Friday and plays well right off the bat, then maybe. But the Bulls are still one of the NBA’s premier tankers, and both Portis and Mirotic will be competing for minutes in a frontcourt rotation that also includes rookie Lauri Markkanen, Robin Lopez and Cristian Felicio. And let’s not forget that Mirotic has, at the very least, entertained asking for a trade since the dustup with Portis. (Mirotic, we should note, cannot be shipped out until January 15, when his free-agency restriction officially lifts.)
It doesn’t feel like this is the last we’ve heard of Chicago’s soap opera. Getting Mirotic back on the floor will help, because he’s no longer watching from sidelines, but his altercation with Portis figures to be a springboard for trade rumors once he’s eligible to be moved in January.