The End is Near for Nikola Mirotic

The End is Near for Nikola Mirotic

Who am I?

I earned a spot in the starting lineup for the Chicago Bulls during training camp

I had my face broken in practice before the season started because I tried to pick a fight with a teammate who is from the gang-ridden streets of Little Rock, Arkansas (not a smart decision to start a fight with anyone from Little Rock, especially a 250 pound NBA power forward)

I sulked and refused to be a part of the team after said face was broken

I decided to eventually rejoin the team after I realized Bobby Portis wasn't going to be traded and that I was the odd man out

I returned to the court and instantly became the greatest player to ever put on a Bulls uniform, leading the Bulls on a 7-game winning streak

I fist bump with Bobby during games, but that is the extent of our relationship (because he hurt my face)

I am Nikola Mirotic

And I am about to get traded

On Monday, Nikola Mirotic will become eligible to be traded and he will indeed be traded. This outcome was predetermined long ago, right after the Bulls sided with big punch Bob after he knocked out Mirotic during an October practice. After Mirotic experienced a concussion that only Wes Welker could appreciate from the devastating left hook, Portis was suspended for eight games, then quickly welcomed back to the team. Everyone admitted Portis was wrong (including himself) for throwing the punch, but the Bulls did not hesitate to point out that Mirotic was the aggressor in this situation (embarrassing).

This did not sit well with Mirotic and it was a me or him (him being Portis) situation in his eyes from that point on (if it helps, think of it like the situation at the end of the 1998 childhood classic "The Parent Trap". Annie and Hallie Parker (both played by Lindsey Lohan) pull a prank on their kid-hating, gold-digging, future stepmother Meredith Black by pushing her out into the middle of a lake on an air mattress while she is sleeping (re-watching this as an adult, you realize that this is extremely dangerous without providing her with a life jacket and in actuality, she could have died if she fell off and didn't know how to swim. She probably had a right to be a little upset). She luckily is a good swimmer and makes it back to shore, where she then gives their dad, Nick Parker (Dennis Quaid), the ultimatum that it was either her or his kids (in this situation, Lohan is Bobby Portis and Mirotic is the gold digging blonde, as Dennis Quaid shocking picked his own children)). With the Bulls "picking" the Lindsey Lohan of this situation, Mirotic's future with the Bulls was set and the date January 15th became circled on everyone's calendars, with that being the first day he could be moved per his contract.

Drafted way back in the 2011, this is not what we expected to be with Mirotic in 2018. Originally, we projected Mirotic to arrive in Chicago a few years after that draft (which he did in 2014) and be a contributor for a team that would win Chicago its 7th championship (which we know didn't come close to happening). Instead, he developed into a solid bench player that never really lived up to his potential and got punched in the face. It will be interesting to see how we end up looking back at Mirotic's time with the organization a few year from now.

I will admit I had high hopes for Mirotic coming into this season. He seemed extremely committed to improving his game this summer, forgoing his duties to his Spanish national team (which is a big deal. Pau Gasol still plays and he is like 90) and putting on 20 pounds of muscle in the off-season (weight he ended up losing a significant amount of after Portis bought him a handicapped parking permit with that slug to his face). He won the starting job in training camp over Portis (can't make that up) and looked primed for a break out year. We couldn't have seen the punch coming (or could we be simply looking into Portis's eyes after being told he hadn't won the starting job?) and that really cost Mirotic a long-term future in Chicago.

In saying that, when Mirotic played, my high hopes were met. Once he was finally activated, he came out like a Bull in a China shop (get it?), dropping over 20 points in four of his first six games back, while leading the Bulls on a seven game winning streak. He was stroking threes, rebounding like a guy his size should (his career average of five rebounds per game is some Luc Longley shit), and getting to the hole with ease. Mirotic in the lineup was helping the Bulls win and he was playing better than he ever had before. In just a few weeks, his trade value had quickly gone from a 2nd round pick to a 1st rounder and possibly change. POSSIBLY CHANGE!

The wins he brought to the Bulls, along with his much improved game is exactly why he must be traded on Monday. Trade a player who is leading your team to wins and scoring at clips we always dreamed he would? What? Is this the upside down? No, but this is the NBA, and you should move your player when he has reached his peak trade value (he has) and move your player when he is hurting your rebuilding efforts (psssssst.....that is code for tanking).

In that spirit, he needs to be traded on Monday and not a day later. Don’t let him play another game. He has been out since last Saturday with a stomach virus (I am all in on the conspiracy that Bulls GM Gar Foreman is actively poisoning Mirotic's meatloaf in order to leave his trade value where it currently stands, which is high. Never heard of this conspiracy? Probably because I am making it up right now) and he is not going to play any better than he already has. He can only hurt his trade value at this point. In fact, his all-star caliber play is already trending down.

After starting out on his absolute fuck you campaign, dropping 18.3 points per game (50% FG, 47% from 3) and grabbing 7.1 rebounds in December, he has come back down to earth in January, with his averages sinking to 14.3 points per game (42% FG, 44% from 3) and 6.8 rebounds. December Mirotic is worth a 1st round pick and possibly more. January Mirotic is worth a 12 pack of old style and Adam Morrison.

With only one Bulls game left until Monday, it is safe to bet that Mitrotic’s value has been set at a first round pick, which is still crazy to think about considering his stock was worse than RadioShack’s just a few months ago. But where will he end up and what exactly will our haul entail?

The Utah Jazz, Portland Trailblazers, and Detroit Pistons have all been linked to Mirotic at this point. Out of those three, we want his new home to be in the mountains of Salt Lake City. Portland is going to make the playoffs, as well the Pistons, but Utah is currently out of the playoff picture and I really don't believe Mirotic is going to get them over the hump. A non-playoff picture for the city of Salt Lake means a lottery pick for Chicago and the thought of two lottery picks has me dreaming up something special.

By adding a second lottery pick to our arsenal, even the Bulls can't mess this rebuild up (just pretend Portis concussed all of us in order to forget our 2017 draft day blunder of trading Jordan Bell to the Warriors). With two lottery picks, one hopefully in the top five, the Bulls can select two more future pieces to add to the new core of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen. Imagine this scenario:

On Monday, we do in fact trade Mirotic to Utah, acquiring their 1st round pick (which turns out to be the #12 pick) in the process. The Bulls miss Mirotic (doubtful at best), hold out LaVine forever (to guarantee the tank as LaVine is good and might push us over 30 wins), and finish with the 2nd worst record in the league (the Atlanta Hawks are not letting go of the worst. They really suck). When the ping pong balls fall in Chicago (we host the lottery this year!), the Bulls end up with the #3 pick in the draft and select Marvin Bagely III, the Duke phenom currently averaging 22 points and 12 rebounds per game. Following that franchise changing selection that makes tanking a worthwhile cause, we don't trade the 12th pick (only re-read that if your name is Gar Foreman or John Paxson) and instead select swing man Miles Bridges out of Michigan State, who should still be available and would fill our significant deficiency in versatile wings.

With those two picks, your future starting lineup reads: Dunn, LaVine, Bridges, Markkanen, Bagley. That lineup is has it all; athleticism, shooting, length. That lineup could contend for an Eastern Conference Finals by 2021 (LeBron has to run out of batteries by then, right?). That lineup makes me want to drive Mirotic to O'Hare myself on Monday. And, most importantly, that lineup has the potential to be a reality by simply trading Mirotic on Monday. I don't condone violence ever, but if there was every a player that HAD to be punched, I am not mad it was Mirotic.

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