Fred Hoiberg may as well just borrow Marshawn Lynch’s famous line the next time reporters ask him about the ongoing Nikola Mirotic situation.
Reporter: “What’s the latest with Niko?”
The Bulls head coach didn’t go Full-Beast-Mode in his media session earlier today, but he came close. It’s clear that Fred is sick of fielding questions about Mirotic, who’s still recovering from the facial fractures he suffered thanks to the fist of teammate Bobby Portis.
Here’s an excerpt from Hoiberg’s latest comments about Niko, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson:
Hoiberg has hit his Niko updates limit.
Reporter: What's latest on Niko?
Hoiberg: He continues to add to his workload, feel better.
R: Is he working out "after hours?"
H: He has been.
R: Are you in touch with him?
H: I am.
R: What's his mood?
H: He’s been in good spirits
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 10, 2017
Fred gives a nine-word answer to the first question. Through three follow-up questions about Mirotic, the beleaguered coach offered a total of just ten more words with little information. For a guy who was praised by the Bulls front office for his communication skills upon his hiring, this seems somewhat out of character.
Can you blame him, though? This messy situation between two of his players is the front office’s problem. Hoiberg has actually done an admirable job keeping this young team focused on their games when all the media and fans want to talk about is the drama-filled feud between Niko and Bobby. If there are no updates on Niko’s situation, what more can Fred say? He’s still working his way back from injury. He still hasn’t talked to Bobby. He can’t be traded (if that’s the route the Bulls decide to take) until January 15th.
So, Fred…what’s up with Niko?
Hey, you know what’s funny? The Bulls are actually 2-7 right now, so that Ditka clip works perfectly. But I think it’s safe to say Fred’s bad mood during his media session earlier today has far more to do with the endless Niko questions than his rebuilding group’s poor record. One of those things he probably anticipated coming into this season. The other? Not so much.
There is one piece of worthwhile information from Fred’s brief comments. Mirotic is still working out at the Advocate Center “after hours” – meaning he’s still not around the facilities while his teammates are present. Considering there’s a growing public perception that teammates, coaches and front office members are all taking Bobby’s side, Niko probably has no desire to come back into that atmosphere. According to several reports, Mirotic still sees this as a “me or him” situation.
Portis came back from his suspension with a statement game, tallying 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists against the Raptors earlier this week.
It’s looking more and more likely that Niko will be the odd man out. Until that happens in January or later, Fred will be stuck hearing the same questions. Hopefully The Mayor uses it as a chance to get creative with his answers. Maybe he should watch some tape of Gregg Popovich’s interviews for inspiration.