Storyline: Nikola Mirotic Free Agency

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But it might actually make more sense to try to bring Mirotic back. A league source thinks he will get offers in the range of $13 to $14 million per season, and the Bucks would need a shooter to replace Middleton’s three-point stroke. Paying Mirotic that price would also allow them to re-sign Brook Lopez with their remaining cap room—since they don’t own his Bird rights, they can’t go over the cap to bring him back.

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“We have to step up, try to make the playoffs,” Mirotic said. “I’m going to try to make free agency simple, do what’s best for me and my family. We’re happy in New Orleans. In July, we’re going to take a deep breath and see what’s going on. I want to be on a team that’s in the playoffs and can fight for a championship and is a good organization. My goal is to be a starter as well, but that’s not a priority. My first priority is my family.”

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.’’

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.”
2 years ago via ESPN

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.”

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.”

Nilola Mirotic wants to stay in Chicago

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.

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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June 19, 2019 | 6:48 pm EDT Update
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