The Chicago Bulls have quite the off-season ahead of them. Between this month’s NBA Draft, trying to trade/amnesty forward Carlos Boozer and swaying stars Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love to the Windy City, the Bulls brass has their hands full until the beginning of the 2014-15 NBA season.
Another issue at hand for the six-time NBA Champions is whether or not Nikola Mirotic will opt-out of his overseas deal with the Real Madrid basketball club and come to play in Chicago.
Mirotic was acquired by the Bulls from the Minnesota Timberwolves (who acquired him from the Houston Rockets) in the 2011 NBA Draft.
The 6’10” Mirotic has been a star playing in his home country of Spain. Mirotic has won the Euroleague’s Rising Star Award twice (2011 and 2012), been named to the All-Euroleague Second Team twice (2013 and 2014) and won the Spanish ACB League MVP in 2013.
On Friday night, the Chicago White Sox played the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field and Sox owner (and Bulls owner) Jerry Reinsdorf hosted a special guest at the game:
Nikola Mirotic watched the White Sox game with Jerry Reinsdorf tonight. #bulls
— Scot Gregor (@scotgregor) June 14, 2014
What does it mean? Not a whole lot, but Mirotic has expressed before how much excitement he has for wanting to play in Chicago.
Although Mirotic has one more year on his deal with Real Madrid, the Bulls have expressed serious interest in bringing the 23-year-old to America.
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.”
-K.C. Johnson on the Bulls and Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Tribune
Personally, bringing Mirotic over should happen for the Bulls. Sure, if Mirotic comes over, the chances of acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love will fall. Also, the difficult part of Mirotic coming over is buying out the $3.475 million left on Mirotic’s deal in Spain.
However, Mirotic is no longer eligible for a rookie-scale contract, so the Bulls can basically sign him for what they feel is best for their cap space. (The contract must be for at least three seasons.)
There’s plenty of factors that the Bulls must pay attention to in the coming months. Whether or not they want to sign the pronounced “best European player not to play in the NBA yet” is one of the largest.
(And yes, the hype is well-deserved.)