Once the rest of the Bulls cleared out of the building and hopped on a flight to Miami, the plan was for injured forward Nikola Mirotic to make his return to the Advocate Center for light conditioning.
Mirotic has been sidelined and out of sight since being injured in an Oct. 17 practice altercation. Teammate Bobby Portis was suspended eight games for throwing the punch that caused facial fractures and a concussion.
"It's a big step," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We're going to leave a trainer back to supervise his workouts. But it's a good first step to get him feeling better. He'll hopefully have good workouts; be able to do a little more every day. It'd be good to see him when we get back."
Hoiberg confirmed Mirotic will not have surgery to repair the facial fractures. He's expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks while recovering. Tuesday's scheduled workout was supposed to be basic, probably riding a stationary bike to get a sweat going.
There's no telling when Mirotic will be back with the team or if he and Portis can coexist. It's probably no coincidence Mirotic scheduled his first workout when the team is out of town. The fourth-year forward visited the Advocate Center a few days after the altercation, but it was a few hours after practice ended.
"Just to get back in here and to get moving, to get sweating, is an important first step," Hoiberg said. "The next step is to get the group back together and then hopefully move on from it."
Guard Jerian Grant talked about the possibility of having Mirotic with the team again.
"I've talked to him. He's in good spirits," Grant said. "It has been tough not having him around. Since I've been here, he's been here. Been at every practice, been at every game. It's been tough. To get him back would be good."
Toughest practice over:
After a 32-point loss to Oklahoma City, coach Fred Hoiberg promised Monday's practice would be the toughest of the year.
"It was great," Jerian Grant said with a smile. "It was competitive. Guys were going at it and we played well. It was a tough practice. We got up and down but it was what we needed."
Stats don't lie:
Thanks to Saturday's horrid offensive performance against the Thunder, the Bulls rank last in the league in both points (89.8) and field-goal percentage (. 385). They've fared a little better on defense, ranking 11th in points allowed at 102 per game.
The Bulls rank 29th in pace, ahead only of Utah, measured by the number of possessions in a game. Pushing the ball upcourt and playing faster was supposed to be a point of emphasis this season.