Bulls' Nikola Mirotic misses walk-through, faces team fine

CHICAGO -- Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic was an unexcused absence from Friday's pregame walk-through and admits he forgot about the schedule prior to Friday's loss 95-69 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

"I completely forgot," Mirotic said after the game. "We had a back-to-back. I forgot usually we meet at the arena after a back-to-back ... I apologized here to teammates, to the coach and we move on ... s--- happens."

Mirotic, who did not play in Thursday night's loss to the Bucks, admitted that he was surprised he has been taken out of the rotation. For the first time in his career, he was a listed as DNP-CD during Thursday's game.

Mirotic said the absence had nothing to do with not playing Thursday night.

"No, I'm not that kind of guy. Even if things are not like how I would like them to be, I'm very professional,'' he said. "It's not my first year here. Those guys respect me and I respect them. I would never do that, something like that."

He was the only Bull not to play in Friday's game as well.

"It's been difficult," said Mirotic. "It's the first time in my career that this is happening. But it's a coach's decision so I got to respect that. There's not too much I can say about that."

Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed after the game that Mirotic was late to the United Center because he forgot about the walk-through. Mirotic is expected to be fined by the team.

"Niko was in early this morning, he was the first guy in the gym getting in extra work," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said before the game. "I had a good meeting with him ... Just like everybody who would be late in this situation, it is a finable offense."

Mirotic is averaging 8.7 points a game in 22.4 minutes in his third NBA season. He has struggled throughout the year to find consistency in his game.

"He was as good as he can be in a situation like that," Hoiberg said of the Friday morning meeting with Mirotic. "Obviously, any competitor isn't going to be happy when you get taken out of a lineup. But talking to him about keeping himself ready ... It was good to see him in there this morning getting in extra work and getting up extra shots, keeping himself prepared when his name was called, and that's what we talked about. Obviously, he's going to get another chance this year. He's got to keep working, keep himself ready, and when opportunity comes, go out and play well."

For now, Mirotic remains out of the rotation, but Hoiberg said that could change. Struggling second-year big man Bobby Portis took Mirotic's minutes during Thursday's loss.

"We'll take it on a game-by-game basis and practices," Hoiberg said. "We'll have the opportunity to practice again this week and we'll have a few chances, and we'll continue to figure it out. But as of right now, it's a game-by-game basis."

In other news, Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams said a Christmas Day return against the San Antonio Spurs is "realistic."

Carter-Williams has been out since suffering left knee and left wrist injuries in an Oct. 31 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Carter-Williams says his knee is fine, that it's the wrist that has sidelined him even longer than the original six weeks the Bulls estimated for his return.

He had the cast taken off his wrist on Friday and seems to be in good spirits.

"I got my other cast off today," Carter-Williams said. "I think I'm going to do some strengthening exercises and all that this week and then try to get back on the court if everything feels right."
Copyright © 2020 ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.