Chicago Bulls

Nikola Mirotic returns to Bulls practice — but avoids Bobby Portis

Given that there’s little if any precedence for a teammate concussing and breaking another teammate’s face with a punch, Monday seemed to fall right in line.

As the Bulls practiced at the Advocate Center, Nikola Mirotic first sat in the trainer’s room and then lifted weights in the background, his first time rejoining his teammates since Bobby Portis drew an eight-game suspension for his Oct. 17 punch that caused the above damage.

Nevertheless, Portis said he still hadn’t talked to Mirotic, who has told management he doesn’t want to share a locker room with Portis moving forward.

“I’d react normal,” Portis said, when asked what he’d do if Mirotic approached him. “I’m a normal guy. I’m a high character guy, low maintenance guy. I’d welcome him in with open arms.”

Portis has apologized to Mirotic and has previously said he has no future plans to reach out after initial attempts were rebuffed. Executive vice president John Paxson basically said the days of accommodating Mirotic are over.

“What has to be understood is that we weren’t going to be in a position to continuously accommodate those needs,” Paxson said of Mirotic previously working out after hours and away from the team. “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.”

Asked if it’s weird that Mirotic and Portis are in the same gym and not talking, Paxson said: “They are adults. This is our workplace. They’re both part of the team. I think it’s pretty simple.”

Mirotic, who can’t be traded until January 15, has started light shooting, conditioning and weightlifting. Tuesday marks four weeks since the incident, and the Bulls initially said he’d be out four to six weeks.

“The timeline for him getting back is all how he’s feeling and recovering from what he went through,” Paxson said. “He obviously has to get his conditioning up to a level that he needs to. That’s all a process for him.”

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