Nikola Mirotic, trade him if you dare

Yesterday when discussing trades, I noted that in order to get a star level player Nikola Mirotic would likely have to be included in any deal. For those who aren't following the news out of Europe, there's a reason why.

First two time winner of the rising star award.
MVP of the ACB league (and his team won the title that season)
Starting off this season top 5 in PER in both Euroleague and ACB league
NBA caliber body (6'10, 238)
Silky smooth outside jumper which should extend to the NBA three
Crafty inside game featuring great footwork and a variety of moves

Nikola Mirotic doesn't have a 40 inch vertical, but outside of freak athlete status, he has every other tool in the toolbox to become a great player in the NBA. While playing a different style of game, his floor in the NBA is likely around Andrea Bargnani or Danilo Gallinari. His ceiling [though unlikely] is closer to Dirk Nowitzki.

All signs point to his arrival this summer.

If the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer, something I'm growing less and less confident they will do as there simply isn't much upside in the move, then Nikola Mirotic will be the reason why they can get away with it. The Bulls can enter next season with him on the roster and expect 28 quality minutes right out of the gates.

His first season will likely contain some struggles as he adjusts to greater minute totals, more physicality, and a further three point line. However, Mirotic doesn't appear as soft as Bargnani, particularly mentally. He's a tough kid, who's played in a tougher domestic league along with Euroleague.

His PER through 5 games this season sits over 30 and is in the top five of both Euroleague and ACB. He's shooting well over 50% from the field in both competitions and is simply dominating the competition right now.

It's fair to say that Nikola Mirotic will be the most proven player to transition from Europe to the NBA since Luis Scola, and the Bulls will likely sign him to a three year 15 million dollar contract right out of the gates which will keep him on the roster at what likely becomes a bargain price for the next three seasons.

Do you give that up to pay Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge closer to 20 million per season after new extensions? Do you give that up for Al Horford who's likely much better defensively and more physical but doesn't have the offensive ceiling?

Is a super stretch four the right player to attack the Miami Heat with?

These are the questions the Bulls front office will face, and they may already have come to the conclusion that the answer is no. For my part, I think I'm keeping Mirotic over Al Horford and LaMarcus Aldridge. For Kevin Love? I consider throwing him in.

That's the problem with trading high upside prospects. Two years from now, the preceding statement may look ridiculous in either direction. Mirotic could become no where near as valuable as any of those players, become their equal, or become vastly superior. For my part, I think his odds of making at least one NBA all-star appearance look pretty good.

I also like the way his skills will fit in with the Bulls present roster. One of the things Bulls fans complain about frequently is the lack of shooting. Jimmy Butler looks like a mainstay who won't add it any time soon. Getting a premier stretch four will add shooting while allowing Chicago to keep a wing player that's less of a shooter on the floor.

I've always felt a great team has at least one dangerous three point shooter on the floor and two more capable guys. Mirotic looks like the dangerous type, which means the bar for the wing positions drops to capable which seems far more likely to be fulfilled.

Imagine a scenario where the Bulls swap Luol Deng for Eric Gordon, slide Butler to SF, and have an elite stretch four. What does the offense look like now? Two ball handlers, (Rose/Gordon), two shooters (Gordon/Mirotic), tons of perimeter athleticism, and two of the best help defensive bigs in the NBA ready to man the middle [Gibson/Noah].

Ignoring the Gordon possibility, what does a Mirotic/Rose high pick and roll at the three point line look like defensively. Do you dare double Rose off of that with an elite three point shooter setting the pick? When was the last time Rose wasn't trapped off such a play?

Mirotic presents tantalizing possibilities for Chicago if he comes over and translates well. He presents tantalizing trade opportunities for Chicago as well if other teams in the NBA view him as an elite prospect.

The Bulls picked him up late in the draft simply because they had to wait three years to bring him over and few GMs have the luxury of waiting three years on a 1st round pick. On top of that, Mirotic has gone out and improved considerably each of those years since the draft showing that his upside was no fluke.

When he was drafted, he was another tall shooter who played well. Now he's an MVP, a champion, and one of the best players [possibly the best] in Europe.

If the Bulls trade for a star, Nikola Mirotic will likely have to be part of the deal, but they may fix their shooting problem and get a secondary scorer next year with no trades at all.

Filed under: Players

Tags: chicago bulls, nba, nikola mirotic


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  • Do not trade this guy. Ever. Stretch-4's are the wave of the future and fits well with the Roster, as Doug stated. Fits perfectly, actually.

    Trade for Eric Gordon? I like where your heads at, but Gordon seems over-rated. Not because of the injury history, although there is that too... but he's known as a shooter/scorer and his stats seem ordinary at best. He's shooting well this year on a limited sample size, but you have to go back to his first couple years to find his best 3-pt shooting seasons and he "only" average 37% and 39%. Plus, his salary is exactly what Boozer and Deng's has been. $14-$15 million for 2 seasons after this season... wow.

    If you can dump Luol for him pretty much straight up, then you definitely consider it. If he's healthy and can improve since he's only 24 and has seen limited floor action due to injuries, he could be great next to Rose with Butler and Mirotic at the Wings. The downside is a max player injured for 2 seasons beyond this year.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Can't be too overrated if he is availble for Deng... If anything I would argue the opposite his recent injury history has him undervalued. How many SG's could you get that can get you 20+ points a game every night for Loul Deng? Especially a young one. None except maybe Gordon of course. Deng shouldn't be resigned Jimmy is a better and cheaper option so offering Deng and some picks for Gordon seems like the savvy move. Sure its a bit of a gamble but the upside is so great you almost have to do it. The cost is a guy we won't resign and a couple late picks.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Chad, I agree. By over-rated, I mean that his shooting stats have not been off the charts, just above average at best. If we could trade for him using Deng + a couple of our first round picks and not Mirotic and not the Charlotte pick, then I'm all-in. Teague and Snell would be in the mix, too, if it were to mean keeping Mirotic and the Charlotte pick.

    The only reason NO would do this deal is if they feel that Gordon is unhappy and does not want to be in NO. (He wanted to be in Phoenix until NO matched...) Or, there is concern for his health given that he's missed so much time already. Even if they do not resign Deng, they would clear 2 years of a max contract. It's actually not a bad place for Deng to land, with Holiday and Davis. I think with Deng they are a legit playoff team and possible contender with another piece or two.

    So, if you are the Bulls, why not...

  • In reply to Granby:

    "Even if they do not resign Deng, they would clear 2 years of a max contract." Which is exactly why we might not have to give them any extra assets(i.e. first round picks) since they would be making the move as a salary dump, while moving Evans into the 2 guard role.

    The biggest problem with the Deng for Gordon swap is that it virtually locks the Bulls into being a repeater tax team for the next 2 years, which is just not a Reinsdorfian move.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I could not find Reinsdorfian in my dictionary - but I do like it.

    What is Gordon's contract? Not that I really care, because if the Bulls are going to spend the Salary of Deng and Hinrich, why not go for Carmelo instead?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Reinsdorf has paid the regular tax for two years in a row. I agree that cheapness has been an issue in the past, but if he's willing to pay this is the type of move which could considerably improve the team if he does.

    If they amnesty Boozer then they might avoid repeater tax at least once as well.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I really wasn't calling him cheap this time, I think it is just reality that very few owners are going be willing to pay the repeater tax under any cirumstances, and I think that we all agree that Reinsdorf just isn't one of them. I agree that if they amnestitize the Hole, we might just be able to escape the repeater tax next season, but probably not the season after that.

  • I would give him up for Kevin love in a heart beat!! Not for the others u mention Doug..i saw rumors that real Madrid is getting ready for his departure to the NBA next season. Hoping its true. If boozer has a good season maybe bulls can trade him for another quality 3 point shooter next summer.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Wouldn't that be nice? The Bulls would probably have to pick up half of Boozer's salary to pull that off. Even that would be a minor miracle.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Bargnani was traded and he is a legit 7 footer that plays defense worse than boozer and don't rebound!!! Bulls can get something for boozer if he continues to have good season.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    I am not sure that it is actually possible to play worse D than Boozer, but I did catch some of the Knicks/Rockets game last night and Bargnani is maddeningly bad.

  • just don't get omer asiked again with the two year deal thing when most teams give out three years to avoid that stupid loophole gilbert arenas rule. He's looking good and Rose like lebron-wade NEEDS sharp shooters next to him on the floor. Now if only the Bulls can still answer the shooting guard question which continues to haunt them for several years now.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Agree, they have to lock Mirotic in for 3 years. Exactly 3 years so they still get RFA rights.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Am I the only one who thinks that it's Asik's agent who demanded the contract be only 2 years? There was absolutely no reason for the Bulls not to sign him for a 3rd year, or to at least make the 3rd year a team option.

    Asik knew coming over that he was behind an All-Star quality center, I'm sure he didn't want to get stuck behind Noah forever if he proved to be a legitimate starter-level NBA player, the 2-year deal only benefitted him.

  • .1) I tend to agree with you, Doug, I doubt the Bulls amnesty Boozer next summer.

    2) Thus, when Deng and Hinrich leave and their salary comes off the books, a lot of the money saved will go to raises for Rose and Taj. The rest will be needed for Mirotic. I believe you did that financial analysis a few months ago. Perhaps you would repost it.

    They simply cannot afford to trade Deng for Gordon because they will get killed by the repeater tax next year. After all, the NBA is still a business. They really did not plan well for this possibility, the FO should have made sure they stayed out of the tax last season.
    Do you agree?

    I believe they would need to amnesty Boozer to carry Gordon. I would not do it. Love or Carmelo would a different matter. Either of those guys could bring championships.

    3) Absolutely they should not trade Mirotic, even for Love or Anthony. The salary differences would be huge, maybe close to $15 million per year for the next 3 years.

    Thus, it is not a question only if Love or Anthony will be better than Mirotic (they may not). It is also a question whether Love or Anthony would be better than Mirotic plus whomever the Bulls could bring in for the extra $15 million per year! The answer to that should be obvious.

    4) I liked your idea yesterday of trading Deng, Hinrich, and picks for Anthony. That could bring a ring this year. However, if Anthony will not sign an extension, then how much more could the Bulls include? Maybe a couple of 1st round picks, but not the Charlotte pick. And NY will not do that.

    Of course, if they trade for Anthony and he signs the extension, then the Bulls could amnesty Boozer - in fact, they would have to, unless they could swing a trade. They would still pay the repeater tax next year, but they should have enough to take down any other team.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    If you can flip Deng (plus a Bulls late 1st pick) for Gordon, you do it.

    Even if it means amnestying Boozer. Boozer has been a rock for this franchise. As dependable as they come. However, he is not the future. We have little confidence that he'll be a difference maker in the playoffs.

    Thus, moving forward with Rose, Gordon, Butler, Mirotic and Noah/Taj makes sense. (With Rose, Gordon and Butler the key young talent.)

    You hope that Butler does not cost too much in a couple years. And, you hope that Gordon is open to resigning for a bit less in a few years unless he realizes his upside. I think you can ride these guys into the sunset and sacrifice Noah and Taj before Rose, Gordon, Butler and Mirotic. You also have the Charlotte pick that should be top 10 and very easily top 5, so that could be a cheaper option and high-end talent.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I totally agree with you that boozer has been a rock, if by rock you mean someone who plays defense exactly as effectively as a rock would if it could be wheeled out on the court and dumped in the middle of the lane to sit there immobilized waiting for a rebound to fall on its head.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Well, you certainly have your comedic hat on today!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Thank you for not taking that comment seriously.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You forgot to mention his screaming of " give me that" or " go get that Joe"

  • In reply to rustyw:

    You keep mentioning using the Deng and Hinrich money to pay for raises to Rose and Taj, those guys already got their big raises. last season for Rose and this season for Taj, so your not making a valid point.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Then I misunderstood, because I thought those raises, tho signed earlier, kicked in next year. As I recall, the article by Doug on team finances showed the Bulls could make almost no moves next off season, even with Deng and Hinrich off the books, without amnestying Boozer.

    Well, if that is incorrect, then the Bulls are in better financial shape than I expected. Hinrich and Deng are getting what, about $16 million total this season? So next season that money can go for Mirotic, $5 mil, cap/tax relief, $5 mil, and a FA for $5 mil. And they still have Boozer for his last season.

    Or, better yet, trade for Love or Anthony, scratch the FA, amnesty Boozer, and use the loot saved to pay the Allstar. Plus they still get Mirotic. Rose, Anthony, Mirotic, Noah, and Butler (or Dunleavy) beats any other team most nights. And wins the Finals.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Their deals are on the books now, but the general escalation of salaries will eat into cap room each year as guys are all on escalating deals for the most part. (ie, Rose doesn't get a huge bump but gets 1-2 million more per year etc.. )

    We won't have appreciable cap room by amnestying Boozer and letting Deng go, but we can get room under the tax.

  • Reinsdorf's loyalty to his employees sometimes frustrates me, but it also lets them take long-term risks like Mirotic when other teams can't.

    If he entered last year's draft, Mirotic would have likely been the #1 overall pick. Bulls should build Rose and Mirotic, unless you can trade Mirotic for a second player that you think makes the Bulls into true championship contenders. I don't think Aldridge or even Love are that guy, I would probably just see how Mirotic pans out.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree.

  • Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
    Mirotic is a hold!
    And trading up 5 spots in the 2011 draft was a crafty move.
    Problem with Bulls FO is they often hold players too long and appear hesitant to make trades.

  • Thanks Doug, for more eloquently saying what I mentioned in yesterdays post, that it was getting near impossible to trade Mirotic for any realistically available players, and that it only made sense to consider moving him for players that we can only dream of obtaining, basically guys in the Derrick Rose category.

    Of the trio that you mentioned, I agree that Love is the only one that you consider moving Mirotic for. I love what a Noah/Horford frontcourt gives you, but elite offense is not part of it. There is a very good chance that Mirotic will instantly become the second best offensive player in the Rose era, or even since the Jordan era.

    I also agree with you that the Bulls have almost certainly already decided that he is virtually untouchable. They have already waited 2 years and he has only gotten better in that time.

    As for the Euro comparison, I can't believe that he will ever be as bad)soft) as Bargnani(even though he was the #1 pick overall), I see Gallinari or Toni Kukoc as his downside, and it feels like he is trending far closer to the Nowitiski direction.

    The one question that I have is if Mirotic does come over next season, do you keep the BozoHole as insurance for one year or clear his useless ass out of the way so that Taj and Mirotic can play all the minutes at power forward. To me keeping the Hole just impedes Mirotics integration into the Bulls lineup by another year and more or less wastes the entire year for him.

    As I said yesterday, Rose, Butler, Mirotic and Noah is the new core of the Bulls going forward, might as well start on the future as soon as possible.

    Finally, Knicks and Nugs talking Shumpert for Faried. Both guys supposedly somewhat available. What about the Bulls trading for either guy, or creating a 3 way deal with Deng going in either direction and the Bulls ending up with either guy. Shumpert would let us move Butler to SF, which seems to be the direction that everyone thinks this is headed anyway. Faried gives you another athletic manimal on the boards. What do you think, Bull fans.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You asked, "The one question that I have is if Mirotic does come over next season, do you keep the BozoHole as insurance for one year or clear his useless ass out of the way so that Taj and Mirotic can play all the minutes at power forward?"

    That will be a wonderful problem to have! If the Bulls can also get Anthony, then Boozer leaves and the NBA champions flag comes. If not, they'll probably keep him.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    On the trade thing, I can't imagine playing shumpert, rose, and butler. That's an uber athletic lineup, but one that couldn't throw the ball in the ocean from 18 feet from the basket. Deng's not a great shooter, but he's vastly, vastly more reliable than shumpert.

    It'd be interesting to get Faried, but he's the kind of guy we have more than the kind of guy we need, especially with MIrotic in the wings and the Bulls then having a stacked front court if Boozer isn't amnestied. Even if Boozer is Amnestied, I'm not sure the Bulls would get much use out of him as his skill set as big man hustle/lunchpail dude would overlap Taj/Noah.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I agree that neither guy is ideal, but if your on board that the Deng era is over, then might as well move him for something interesting a see what happens for the rest of this season.

    You sound a little too down on Rose as shooter, I know that he has sucked so far, but it won't go on forever, will it.

  • Apparently, the genius over at Paducahville(the blog with ZERO followers) had to create another entire post on how stupid someone elses thoughts were, again. Didn't his mother teach him the basics, you know the one about if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't create your own blog, or you will end up with ZERO followers.

    A couple of days ago, I offered that the Bulls (OTR) were a collection of non descript players who could be replaced with another collection of non descript players without altering the results much.

    Apparently according to his diatribe, and unbeknownst to the rest of us, (OTR) we have a collection of near HOF talent. However, it should be noted that this same collection of all stars, all defensive team players and Boozer(who is the 4rth best rebounder in NBA history, even better than Dennis Rodman) played last season without Rose, and won 45 games in an extremely weak eastern conference.

    That is a result that could very fairly be described as pedestrian by any unbiased intelligent fan, don't you think.

    Prior to Rose's arrival we basically bounced around being a .500 team, again that would be pretty much the definition of pedestrian. But what do I know, I am just another stupid Bulls fan who doesn't spend the entire day looking for stats to manipulate. The only stat that I can confirm however, is that Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and most if not all of the current Bulls OTR will definitely finish their careers with the exact same number of championship rings as you and I, a number which is coincidentally exactly equal to the number of followers at Paducahville, ZERO.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    By the way, thanks for taking the bait, I posted those comments knowing that it would throw you into full rant mode, although, it does seem that you pretty much wake up that way.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You're so full of shit, it's downright comical.

    You say that the Bulls are full of "nondescript role players", but you don't even believe that crap. If you did, you wouldn't still be whining about Asik being gone. About Nate being gone. About the Bulls drafting Teague instead of trading up for Miles Plumlee.

    What does it matter if the Bulls let go of a bunch of "nondescript role players" while getting "nothing in return"??

    They'll just replace them with some other "nondescript role players", right?

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Well, your right all those guys are role players also. But thanks for proving my point and comparing your HOF'ers Boozer and Deng to Asik and Nate. and by the way I would rather watch Asik and Nate than the Hole and Deng anyway.

    I notice that you didn't respond to the substance of my comment that a 45 win team is pretty much by definition a pedestrian team. You know a win total that you could achieve by assembling a random gathering of other role players from throughout the league. Even a stat whore like you can't manipulate that fact 45 wins is 45 wins, you know, average, ordinary, pedestrian,

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    The only thing comical around here is seeing your head explode everytime that anyone writes anything that you disagree with, you must have been a blast in highschool, you have finished highschool by now, right.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Well, apparently somebody is reading...

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Actually, I only caught the headline in my peripheral vision while reading Doug's post. So just for humor, I decided to check in to see who or what you were being a total jackass about today. Kind of like I read Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd at the New York times, just to see what the lunatic left is up to today.

  • Deng is a glue guy and without him the team falls apart, especially the 2nd unit. Shumpert is a Chicago kid like Rose and seems to be a great defender, not sure of his offense. Faried is a high energy guy who we already have in Gibson & Noah. I would be fine letting Deng walk if he doesn't take our offer of $8M/yr 2-3 yrs. Hope Mirotic comes over next year and let Boozer go. Mirotic will have had a good amount of international experience and needs to be used by the Bulls right away with meaningful minutes right away.
    Not sure he is a PF or a good shooting SF. Dunleavy is 6'10" and is more a SG or SF than a PF. Our 2 PFs are 6'8-9" anyways & Faried would be that too...the scary tweener category! :-)

  • First, I like Deng. He can do a lot of things -- but nothing well enough to be dominant. He has won a lot of games for Chicago, but not much in the playoffs. I just do not see the team 'falling apart' without him. The Bulls need guys who can bring it in the playoffs - like Carmelo.

    Second, the Bulls cannot afford to keep Deng. They will need the loot for better players (Mirotic) and to avoid the repeater tax. What is left can go for a backup C. Besides, Deng will not sign for $8 million.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Sound like you think that Deng is more or less a role player(you know, as opposed to a featured player), be careful, be very careful.

  • Mirotic is looking pretty good in european basketball. Hopefully his game translates to the NBA. It would be nice to have a big that can screen for derrick and hit a jumper in the pick and pop game. It gets tiring watching Noah come to screen, only to have derrick blitzed and double teamed.

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