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The Bernstein Brief: Silence From Bulls' Nikola Mirotic Raises Questions

By Dan Bernstein -- senior columnist

(CBS) As he recovers from a vicious punch to the face from Bobby Portis, Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic hasn't returned text messages from teammates, according to reports. He suffered multiple facial fractures and a concussion in the skirmish at practice last week, and his ongoing silence undermines the team's chosen narrative of "These things happen."

That's what executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said when he announced an eight-game suspension for Portis, during which he's still allowed to practice. Coach Fred Hoiberg played along, saying, "I've seen altercations happen every year, every week, every month. I saw it on the best teams I played on, where you have that competitive spirit."

Center Robin Lopez went even a step further on damage control day last Wednesday, insisting the Bulls' culture is "great" and that "part of that good mojo we have right now is going to be huge in unifying the two."

It's clear now that Mirotic harbors more ill will than the Bulls initially expected when they pushed back so hard to insist there was essentially nothing to see here. With each passing day that Mirotic refuses communication as he remains out indefinitely, we wonder if he's considering taking some kind of remedial action.

At the least, it's not good mojo.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score's "Bernstein and Goff Show" in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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