CHICAGO — Chicago Bulls swingman David Nwaba is expected to miss two to four weeks because of a right ankle injury. Nwaba, who turned the ankle in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, is now in a walking boot as he begins the rehab process.
“He’s going to be probably two to four weeks,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s got a severe ankle sprain. He’s off the crutches now, he’s in a walking boot, but he sprained it pretty good.”
Tuesday also marks the return of power forward Bobby Portis after serving an eight-game suspension for knocking out Nikola Mirotic in practice last month. The fight left Mirotic with a concussion and several facial fractures, and it remains unclear when he will be able to return. Hoiberg said Portis would be the backup 4 on Tuesday night behind rookie Lauri Markkanen, and there was a chance Portis and Markkanen may be paired together, depending on the lineups the Raptors have on the floor.
“Bobby’s been practicing with us, obviously, for the last couple weeks,” Hoiberg said. “He’s been the same player as far as his energy is concerned. Every time he steps on the floor we need a jolt of energy, he’s a guy who can provide that for us. He needs to continue to go out there and do those little things that has made him successful when he’s been out there on the floor in his first couple years in the league. Go out there and play with great passion, play with great energy. Run the floor for us, rebound at a high level and go out there and follow the game plan defensively. I know his teammates are excited to have him back, I know the coaches are excited to have him back.”
“I’m definitely anxious to see what he has to bring,” Bulls center Robin Lopez added. “I think he’s been putting in a lot of work, a lot of work this offseason. I know there’s been some interesting situations going on, but I think we’re all excited to have him back on the court.”
As for Mirotic, Hoiberg said he wasn’t sure whether Portis and Mirotic had spoken yet, but all indications are that the pair has not. In his first public comments after the incident, Portis said he called and texted Mirotic but that he has not heard back from him. For his part, Hoiberg has repeatedly tried to support both players publicly, but the dynamic will become even more interesting for the Bulls once Portis is back on the active roster.
“Just continue to make progress and continue to get better,” Hoiberg said of Mirotic. “Every day he’s been able to increase his workload, the bike and the pool, and that’s the important thing right now, is to worry about getting him back physically ready. That’s the biggest thing we’re focused on with Niko right now.”