Nikola Mirotic spent considerable time looking into the mirror after being traded from the Chicago Bulls last season.
Not so much to reevaluate his NBA career. He just couldn’t get used to the sight of himself without that beard.
Upon his return to United Center on Sunday for the preseason opener, Mirotic was clean shaven with a little bit of scruff. He did not play because of some mild Achilles tendinitis.
Mirotic didn’t get the razor endorsement he was looking for last spring when he shaved, but he acknowledged there’s a chance the beard could return someday.
“I kind of like to mix it now,” Mirotic said before the game. “But I felt that people want me without the beard because the team was playing great (last season), I was playing great. Kind of stick to that routine.”
Had he played Sunday, it would have been Mirotic’s first time facing the Bulls. The season series was over by the time the Bulls sent him to the Pelicans on Feb. 1 for essentially the first-round pick that became Chandler Hutchison.
His memories of the 3½ years spent in Chicago were pleasant, even regarding former teammate Bobby Portis, who broke bones in Mirotic’s face during a practice skirmish before last season.
“Obviously what happened stays in the past; there is nothing I am regretting right now,” he said. “I saw that Bobby had a great end of the season, I was happy for him.
“The relationship I had with Bobby was professional. We never talked. We did shake the hands. Sometimes that silence that we had between us was helping us to have a better relationship, to respect more each other and it is going to be that way for the future. There is nothing we need to talk (about), just be professional. He’s playing for his team and I am playing for my team.”
Mirotic said he would have been OK with staying in Chicago but felt like it was best for both sides to move on. He visited with vice president of basketball operations John Paxson on Sunday.
“I like John a lot,” Mirotic said. “John is a great guy and was a great player, too. I have a lot of respect for him. I love Chicago. I had great memories, just blessed I had a chance to be here.”
Mirotic said his wife is expecting their second child, another son, in February or March.
“The most important thing for me, the family did really adjust well,” he said. “They like the city, a small city. Different culture, but they like it and I like it too. Really great chemistry on the team. So I’m kind of really happy with New Orleans.”
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls