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Bulls to begin talks to bring Nikola Mirotic to NBA

May 19, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT


Nikola Mirotic has the current title of “best player in Europe not to come to the NBA yet.”

The Bulls have had his rights since 2011 but let him grow up some overseas — Mirotic just led Real Madrid all the way to the Euroleague Finals game (where they fell to Maccabi Tel Aviv 98-86). For the season he averaged 12.4 points in 24 minutes per game.

He’s done enough growing and the Bulls are interested in bringing the 6’10” forward over from Europe now, reports K.C. Johnson at the Chicago Tribune.

The Bulls will begin negotiations for the first time this offseason with Mirotic, who has a buyout this summer. Though Real Madrid made noise about possibly signing Mirotic to an extension beyond the one year remaining on his deal, that could contain an out clause should Mirotic opt for the NBA.

“We have built a relationship with him,” general manager Gar Forman said at last week’s NBA draft combine. “We feel confident he will come over at some point. Whether that’s this summer or next, we don’t know.”

The Bulls are looking for more scoring out of the four slot, better play than they are getting out of Carlos Boozer. That’s why you hear them tied to Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love rumors. The problem is that if they bring in Mirotic this year they would have that much less money to offer Anthony as a free agent. It’s a balancing act.

That said, Mirotic could also help at the four. However, Bulls fans may want to temper immediate expectations — Tiago Splitter of the Spurs got this kind of hype coming out of Europe but it took him a couple seasons to adjust to the NBA game. It will take Mirotic some time as well, he’s not going to step onto an NBA court and instantly be Dirk Nowitzki.

One other thing to watch: The Bulls using Mirotic (or the rights to Mirotic) in a trade for someone they want. To use the obvious example of Love, a package of Carlos Boozer’s expiring deal (for salary), Mirotic, and one or both of the Bulls first-round picks this year (they draft 16 and 19, with pick 16 coming via Charlotte) may interest the Timberwolves.

One way or another, expect to see Mirotic in the NBA next season.

  1. pekkle007 - May 19, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Why is this hard? Package our two 1st rounders and maybe our 1st rounder next yr to move up and go get Wiggins or Parker. Amnesty Boozer and let’s go after a quality big man in FA.

    • Kurt Helin - May 19, 2014 at 7:40 PM

      This is not the NFL, three lower picks will not move you into a top three spot in this draft.

    • masher1965 - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Because why would another team make that stupid a trade ??

  2. money2long - May 19, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    Finally. Heard he’s good.

    • 00maltliquor - May 20, 2014 at 5:51 AM

      O-ver-rated **clap, clap, clap-clap-clap** O-ver-rated **clap, clap, clap-clap-clap**

    • hubermeersmans - May 20, 2014 at 7:16 AM

      I’m Spanish and I really love how Nikola plays bball.
      He’s very agressive, plays very hard on both sides. He shoots quite good ffrom downtown and has good moves in the post. He has size, weight and speed in Europe but I don’t know how he’ll play in USA. It’s difficult to say. Last sunday he played awful in the Euroleague Final and his team, Real Madrid, lost the game in the extratime, but he is a terrific player.
      He reminds me very much of Pau Gasol when he was playing in Barcelona with 19 years old. I never thought that Pau will make the career that hi has made after.
      I think the Bulls will make a good move bringing him to Chicago.

  3. kaspauf - May 19, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    What about the guy who played for Spain in Olympics who was the only player on that team who was not in the NBA, he was a really good 3 point shooter… the Dream Team players said after the last Olympics he was really good, Navarro I think his name was but anyways I have watched some highlights of this guy… he would be a great fit in the NBA.

    • Kurt Helin - May 19, 2014 at 7:39 PM

      He was in the NBA, chose to go back to Europe.

    • hubermeersmans - May 20, 2014 at 7:08 AM

      He played one year in Memphis but it didn’t work very well

  4. adoombray - May 19, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    Bulls fans have got to be ecstatic that Boozer is finally expiring. That guy is almost guaranteed to end up on some tanking team looking salary relief…

    • madnova - May 19, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      Expiring contracts are not as valuable as they used to be.

      The tanking team would need to have an expensive piece with a longer deal that the Bulls would actually want for it to make sense.

      So, maybe like Joe Johnson or Deron Williams.

  5. Dan Gershenson - May 20, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    You can’t package those picks to move up to the 3 spots. That’s not happening. While I would hate to see them part with Taj, I think he’s going to need to be a part of a deal with Love. And I don’t think you can just trade them the “rights” to Mirotic. He could say screw it, I don’t want to play in Minnesota and I’ll stay in Europe. I can’t help but think that signing Mirotic and seeing what he can do in limited minutes playing behind Taj Gibson/Joakim Noah is the perfect situation for him to adjust to life in the NBA. I don’t think Thibs is going to play him significant starter-like minutes right away anyway. If you bring him over and have room for a Lance Stephenson at the 2 spot and move Jimmy Butler to his more natural 3 position, you can also add some solid college pieces from those two picks such as Adrien Payne from Michigan State and Shabazz Napier from UConn. We need depth too so the wheels don’t fall off come the playoffs.

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