Last weekend, Nikola Mirotic led his Real Madrid over Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey tournament. Once again, he took home MVP honors, averaging 16.3 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Mirotic has been playing great since the Bulls got him in the 2011 draft. He has won two Euroleague Rising Star awards and is the leading candidate for Euroleague MVP. He has made a case for being the best basketball player not playing in the NBA and he may now have his sights set for the next step.
At the end of this season, Mirotic will no longer be under the rookie pay scale, meaning the Bulls can pay him more. They can buy out his contract for about $3.44 million, though they would need to do it through his signing bonus.
Bulls front office personnel have downplayed the possibility of Mirotic coming to Chicago next season, but the officials at Real Madrid seem to think that he will leave, and Mirotic and friends have thrown hints that was as well.
“Chicago loves me and is making a great effort for me, a decision will be made soon,” Mirotic said in an interview with Marca.com recently.
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald spoke to Hector Fernandez, who is Mirotic’s best friend. “”Niko is a winner. He (w)as born for competition. He wants to win in every aspect. He is ready for the NBA adventure for sure.”
Even though there is a world of unknown swirling in Chicago, the front office wants to field a winning team on the court next season. The Bulls have a history of being winners and they want that to continue.
Could the Bulls afford to sign Mirotic and get Carmelo Anthony? It may get dicey, and Jerry Reindsdorf may have to bite the bullet and pay the luxury tax. Many critics talk about how he pinches pennies, but he has shown that he will pay out for a team and players that make it worth it.
We should have a better idea of the Bulls’ direction once we see the moves made by the trade deadline, and perhaps bring up our hopes once again in July. What we do know is that John Paxson and Gar Forman have a huge job on their shoulders and the eyes of Bulls Nation is squarely upon them.