The stalemate between Bulls forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic continues. As of Sunday, there still had been no contact between them since Portis punched Mirotic in a fight during practice Oct. 17, sending him to the hospital with a concussion and two broken bones in his face.
There was, however, progress. Coach Fred Hoiberg said Mirotic continued to ‘‘ramp up his activity’’ and was doing a better job of communicating with his other teammates.
‘‘Niko had a really good week of workouts,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘He’s continuing to ramp up his activity. He had good strength workouts and he’s increasing his workload on the floor, so we’re hoping to get him back with the team shortly.’’
When he was asked whether Mirotic was being more social with other players, Hoiberg said there had been improvement in that area, too.
‘‘Guys have been good,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘Niko’s been in the building with our team; guys have been in there with him. He’s still working on his own as he continues along the rehab process, but things have been going well from that standpoint.’’
Hoiberg said he still wasn’t sure about when Mirotic would be completely cleared to return to practice, but it sounded sooner than later.
But a reconciliation between Mirotic and Portis might never happen. The Sun-Times has reported that Mirotic and his representatives told the Bulls that Portis had to go or Mirotic would be willing to waive his no-trade clause so that he could be dealt. Sources said Mirotic hasn’t pressed the issue, but he hasn’t retracted it, either.
The Bulls still are holding on to the hope that Portis and Mirotic can move past the bad feelings, then allow the team to explore its options during the offseason.
Vice president John Paxson has been adamant that the Bulls will do what’s best for the organization. That means they won’t just give players away, especially with no real trade market for Portis or Mirotic.
Hoiberg’s biggest concern with his young team these days is getting it to play tougher, especially in the face of adversity or when the game is slipping away.
That’s no easy task, as evidenced by the Bulls’ second-half lulls against the Jazz and Warriors on their recent four-game trip.
‘‘It’s on everybody,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘You jump ’em, you hug ’em, you try different things and what can get them going.
‘‘You have to keep playing, have to keep going. You can’t put your head down. That’s the growth we have to have with this team is to continue to battle through it when the tough times hit us.’’
On the mend
Forward David Nwaba has been out with a sprained right ankle for more than three weeks, but he might resume practicing Monday after suffering a setback last week.
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