Nikola Mirotic and his Real Madrid teammates lost to Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 98-86 in the first overtime championship game in Euroleague history.
Sunday’s upset loss marks the second consecutive championship game defeat for the Spanish team, following last year’s 100-88 loss to Olympiacos Piraeus in London. It also marked the second straight final in which Real Madrid blew a double-digit first half lead, as they led in this game 33-22 after a Felipe Reyes putback with just under four minutes left until halftime.
Nikola Mirotic, who struggled in the first half before finishing with 12 points (3/10 FG, 1/3 3pt, 5/6 FT), 7 rebounds and two blocked shots in 29 minutes, may have played his final game for Real Madrid. It has now been three years since he was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls, which means he is no longer bound by the NBA’s rookie salary scale.
Mirotic is expected to command a first-year salary of up to the Full Mid-Level Exception, which will be slightly more than this season’s $5.305 million figure. It still isn’t certain whether or not the Bulls will choose to spend the MLE to bring Miriotic over this summer as they are expected to aggressively pursue free agent Carmelo Anthony.
Mirotic could save money by waiting until the summer of 2015 to come to the NBA, as his buyout clause with Real Madrid expires after next season. But if you have watched many Real Madrid games, you have seen that Mirotic is often frustrated by the fact that he is often only the fourth offensive option on his own team, despite being the 2013 ACB Most Valuable Player.
Mirotic could come to the Bulls and immediately be the second option on offense, and that’s assuming Derrick Rose comes back 100% healthy. His ability to shoot the 3-pointer and score effectively both in the post and on mid-range jumpers would make him the perfect fit next to Joakim Noah’s defense and passing game and Rose’s ability to penetrate and draw defenders.
Although there is still no definite word on whether or not Nikola Mirotic comes to the NBA this summer or next, it just makes too much sense for him to do it sooner rather than later. Expect him to get most, if not all, of the Bulls’ Full MLE this summer.