Liz Mullen: BDA Sports has signed New Orleans Pelicans F Nikola Mirotic, who will be a UFA next summer. NBA agent Bill Duffy repping him. Formerly represented by Dynasty Sports.
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Vincent Goodwill: The Bulls formally announce signing of Nikola Mirotic
KC Johnson: Gar: “We’re excited to get a deal done with Niko. We were encouraged he was in here all summer.”
Vincent Goodwill: The second year on Mirotic’s contract is a team option, according to sources
Nick Friedell: Can confirm @Shams Charania report. Bulls have agreed to two year deal with Niko Mirotic. 2nd yr is a team option, according to league source
Shams Charania: Restricted free agent Nikola Mirotic has agreed to a two-year, $27M deal to return to Chicago, league sources tell The Vertical.
Mirotic wants to stay with the Bulls. The Bulls want to keep Mirotic. Both sides have reiterated that on several occasions.
According to a source, the holdup is that the Bulls want the market to set the price on Mirotic, and then they will decide if they would match it. If that offer doesn’t come, well, then the organization can play a bit more hardball with the 26-year-old.
Rather than dwell on his immediate future – whether it’s with the Bulls or elsewhere, however – Mirotic is letting his representation deal with the business of basketball while he remains focused on the business of Niko. “I’ve never been more calm than now,’’ Mirotic told the Sun-Times in a phone interview. “I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because I’ve just decided to be really, really focused on myself and working hard through all of this. Like I said at the end of the season, my goal was to get really stronger this summer, add some pounds, and the last two months have been great as far as accomplishing that. I wanted to work on my body, add muscle, and do what I needed to get better. “The other stuff is going to take care of itself. I really believe that. Just worry about getting better.’’
Nick Friedell: Gar says he’s still optimistic about getting a deal done with Niko Mirotic.
The Bulls and Nikola Mirotic have found common ground — their desire to keep their three-year relationship going. That said, sources on both sides of the negotiations have described them as cordial and the gap to be bridged not that large. According to sources, Mirotic has drawn preliminary interest from at least two teams but has no visits scheduled.
Nick Friedell: Bulls are content waiting on Mirotic’s numbers to filter through league. Waiting to see how the market breaks for the 26 year old.
KC Johnson: John Paxson said the Bulls intend to re-sign Nikola Mirotic in restricted free agency.
As for Mirotic, he will be a restricted free agent this summer, but he is hopeful he’ll be able to return to the Bulls next season. “I’m going to wait till July,” Mirotic said. “But I can tell you my first option is Chicago.”
In a sense, Mirotic knows he’s left plenty on the table as far as his play through the years and seems to be content with playing with a sense of freedom as the season concludes, whether he’s back with the Bulls or not for next year and beyond. “I just wanna leave a good impression for the Bulls,” Mirotic said. “Whatever decision they make. It’s been a pleasure. A lot of people dream to be here, I was one of those guys when I was in Europe. I was really like, I wanna go there and play for the Bulls. The history they have. For me, it’s a dream come true. Whatever decision they make, I make, whatever. I don’t know. The years here have been great. I know it’s been up and down. It’s been a pleasure and I just wanna finish right.”
Mirotic said he wasn’t trying to focus on the future and has noted several times both he and his family enjoy Chicago. But he said he can see the writing on the wall and understands that his future very likely won’t be with the Bulls, given that he is a free agent at the end of this season. “This season’s been hard,” Mirotic said. “It’s been very difficult for me to find a way to enjoy the game. There’s a lot of reasons. One of the reasons is me, too [and my play]. I understand that, I assume that part. So I only hope right now we can win some games, we can have that option to be in the playoffs.”
Nick Friedell: He still hopes Bulls win+make playoffs but admits “This season’s been hard. It’s been very difficult for me to find a way to enjoy the game”
For two games, that rotation didn’t feature Nikola Mirotic. Paxson called on the third-year forward, whose contract is up after this season, to become more consistent. “Niko has a tendency to get down on himself to be honest with you,” Paxson said. “Sometimes as player, you have to say to yourself, ‘Enough is enough. I’m going to go out and compete and work on my game.’ A lot of this is on the individual. Niko is a great guy. He has the ability to get better.”
Recently, Nikola Mirotic and his wife decided they wanted to learn how to speak Greek. They picked this language mostly because it’s a difficult one to master. Never mind that Mirotic already speaks Serbian, Spanish and English. “I like challenges,” Mirotic said. That’s one of the main reasons Mirotic said he wants to stay in the NBA next season rather than return to the safety net of playing professionally in Europe when his three-year, $16.6 million deal expires after this season.
Management, which has called Mirotic part of its core, faces an intriguing decision regarding Mirotic next summer. For his part, Mirotic hopes to remain in Chicago. “I love the Bulls,” he said. “I love my teammates. I love the city. It’s the perfect place for me. The first idea is to re-sign.”
“Real Madrid is one of the best teams in Europe and in basketball,” Mirotic said of his former team. “I had a great time playing there, great memories. I won championships there. I know the fans want me back there. But my first idea is the NBA.”
Although Nikola Mirotic was selected in the first round in 2011, Chicago was able to find a loophole in the CBA and pay him more than his rookie salary slot. Mirotic, who played in Europe after being drafted, arrived in Chicago before the 2014-15 season. League rules stipulate that teams can sign a first-round pick with either cap space or a salary exception when a player is three years removed from being drafted. In Mirotic’s case, the Bulls were able to sign him to a three-year contract using cap space.
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