Nikola Mirotic should ask for a trade

Nikola Mirotic should ask for a trade

Nikola Mirotic paid a $3 million buyout so he could come to the NBA this season to play for the Bulls. He should either ask for a trade, or ask Tom Thibodeau to reimburse his expenses. Thibs is wasting away his rookie season, when he should be the runaway leader right now for Rookie of the Year.

(Ironically, as I typed that last sentence, ESPN’s Mark Jackson stated that if Mirotic were on most any other team in the NBA, he’d be leading the race for Rookie of the Year).

Taj Gibson’s ankle injury finally forced Thibs to play Niko big minutes Friday night in Portland, and he did what I have been telling you he could do for what, two years now?

Nikola Mirotic was the only Bull to show up tonight

In what came as a surprise to absolutely nobody who really knows how to scout basketball talent, when Nikola Mirotic gets 35 minutes, Nikola Mirotic scores.

And rebounds.

In 35:07 of playing time, by far the most he’s gotten in his 13 game NBA career, Niko was the only Bull who could score tonight. He posted career-highs of 24 points and 11 rebounds. He hit 7/14 from the field overall, 4/7 from behind the arc, and 6/8 from the free throw line. That’s a .703 True Shooting Percentage, folks.

He also had two assists, though he should have had 3 or 4 more if any of his teammates could have hit wide-open shots. The box score credits him with 3 turnovers, but he really only had one. He drove the lane and was stripped, and maybe he got fouled but anyone can live with that no-call. It happens.


nikola mirotic bullsville


But he got called for a pair of “traveling” violations on pump-fake drives from the 3-point line that were two of the worst calls you’ll ever see in an NBA game. Not only were they not NBA traveling calls, they weren’t even HIGH SCHOOL traveling violations.

He pump faked and went left, never coming close to moving his left (pivot) foot, but got called for walking both times. At least after the second one, he got onto the official, putting up two fingers for the two horrible calls he got.

But Nikola Mirotic has a sense of humor – the next time down he didn’t bother with the pump fake, drilling a 3 instead. He looked right at the official with the “fuck you American referee, you screw me on good pump fakes, I won’t bother this time” after making the shot.

I will post videos of these plays soon, I happened to be DVR’ing the game for some reason. I guess I subconsciously knew that there was a reason to record a game I was watching live.

There’s not much more to say about tonight’s game, but I have a few thoughts:

The Joe Average fan who can’t see what Hinrich brings to the team saw it tonight in full living color. The same Gasol-less (and Rose-less) starting lineup that beat the Clippers and played the Kings tough had no clue on offense with Aaron Brooks running the show. That’s what a PG like Hinrich brings to the team, and while I don’t expect Joe Average fan to understand most of the time, tonight was a great example of what happens when you don’t have a decent PG running the offense.

Thibs continues to screw over rookies – in a game that was lost, why the hell did Nazr Mohammed get 20 minutes and Cameron Bairstow 2???

Even Tony Snell was fairly effective in his 31 minutes, hitting 3/4 shots from the field and finishing with 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals on the night. He’s still nothing more than an 8th or 9th man at this point, but if the Bulls had a coach who gave a shit about actually developing rookies, who knows where Tony might be right now?

I have to point out again that Thibs refused to play Butler during his first two seasons until Deng and Belinelli were both injured near the end of year 2, and look how good he actually is? Where would he be if he had gotten minutes that went to some scrub veteran during his first 1 3/4 seasons?

In closing, nobody expected the Bulls to win tonight without Gasol and Hinrich. But this was just another strike against Thibs, who has to be running out of excuses for why he keeps playing Taj Gibson ahead of Nikola Mirotic. And why Nikola Mirotic isn’t getting a few of Noah’s minutes.

NBA players aren’t stupid, and they will tune out a coach who keeps talented players on the bench.

Stay tuned, the NBA world is starting to notice what a special talent Nikola Mirotic is. Will Thibs figure it out before he loses his team?

Time will tell.


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    Why do this to yourself? Mirotic was talked about and followed for two years by the avg Joe Bulls fan. After winning Euro MVP awards Bulls fans hoped he'd turn out to be the next Nowitkzi for the Bulls. He still has a lot to learn tho. I love his defense, but he has to learn how to stay out of foul trouble. 4 fouls in 1 1/2 qtrs in Sac-Town shows that. He has to get out of that pump fake routine too. His opponents will soon notice this in their scouting reports of him, and render it ineffective. He should pull the trigger and shoot more. He's so indecisive on offence and so aggressive on defense. I enjoy winning Bulls basketball, but injuries to Pau and Taj is great for developing Niko.

    I wish I could say the same for Dougie Fresh. Hopefully, he'll have a breakout offensive performance and become a 3 pt threat, but I don't see it happening this year. He was so use to having the ball in his hands in college that he's become a early season bust. The best thing about his pro game is his rebounding. He's too slow defending NBA talent, and too gun shy on offense.

    Tony Snell should ask for a trade. He's become a season ticket holder with the best seats in the arena. The Bulls should play him more and McDermott less. Snell has the athleticism that Doug doesn't have.

    Hinrich is playing better than I expected. I was one who wanted the Bulls to sign DJ Augustin over Capt'n Kirk, but Kirk brings it on both ends of the court. That's not to say the Aaron Brooks is that bad. He's been clutch in several games for the Bulls and his ability to score in the paint amongst the bigs as well as shoot the open 3 is impressive. It'll take some time before he's able to learn his teammates tendencies and run the offense as well as Kirk. Don't think for one min that if Kirk Hinrich was playing the game against Portland that Lillard and the Trailblazers would not have won the game. Portland has dominated the Bulls in their home arena over the years.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    The Bulls again appear to have a situation where if they could combine 2 of their players they might have something, Snells body/athleticism and McPillsbury shooting ability, BBIQ and effort.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I'm not too worried about Niko's fouls, only twice has he had over 3 fouls in a game.

    I don't think his pump fake is going away, if opponents stop biting on it, he'll start drilling 3's in their faces. That's a big part of what makes him so tough to guard, he is so good at putting the ball on the floor that you really can't away the 3 or he'll burn you off the dribble.

    And I don't think for even one second that the Bulls win that game if Hinrich plays, but the offense wouldn't have been nearly as horrible as it was to start the game.

  • Since I knew what was coming tonight, our annual butt whipping, I gave up before the end of the first quarter, so I ended up missing Mirotic's best night as a pro. However, any euphoria has to be tempered somewhat by the fact that he did his damage against Portland's second stringers and in garbage time.

    Look, I've been as big of a Mirotic guy as anyone, for as long as anyone, but he would struggle right now as a starter. Lets hope that he takes advantage of the time that Taj is out, I suspect it will be a while, so that by the time Taj comes back, Thibs has to keep giving Mirotic quality minutes.

    The biggest problem will still be starting 2 centers(Noah and Gasol) then replacing them with 2 power forwards(Gibson and Mirotic). Thibs really needs to find a way to split up both of those pairings, but it simply is not politically feasible to sit either Noah or Gasol.

    As I suggested in the preseason, Thibs should platoon the bigmen with Noah paired with Mirotic, and Gasol paired with Gibson, that would provide the most balance between offense and defense for both units. Otherwise, you pair Noah with Gibson for defense and Gasol and Mirotic for offense. The pairings that we have now are most likely the worst of all the possibilities.

    Sooner or later, the Bulls will come to the realization that they will have to trade Taj, hopefully we can do that before the rest of the league figures out his decline, and hopefully we can get a starting caliber wing scorer in return, even someone like Trevor Ariza would be nice. However, I don't see that happening this season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Several of us agree with you, the big man pairings are not the best available.
    1) Noah is playing out of position when paired with Gasol. Some feel the two of them will figure it out eventually, but I am doubtful. Anyway it's not necessary.
    2) Mirotic should play with one of the Cs. Which leaves McDermott to play with the other C, and with Taj.

    Butler did not look like anything special against the Blazers - I hope he is not getting worn dowon already.

    Hinrich and Brooks both have some good games but they are too inconsistent. Is there a better G who might realistically be available in a trade? Who?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Actually, Mirotic did a good amount of his damage against Portland's "real" big men (Aldridge, Lopez, Kaman).

    In the first three quarters, in 23:07 Niko had 14 pts (5/10 FG, 2/4 3's, 2/2 FT) and 7 reb with 2 ast and 0 TO.

    I'm hoping Gasol sits out again Monday so Mirotic gets the start and big minutes, it will give us a little bit of an indication of what he can do against starting units.

    Trades don't really start happening until December 15, when rookies and guys who signed as free agents are eligible to be traded, hopefully Taj can be dealt for an actual PG who can give the team a decent 24 minutes when Rose isn't playing.

    My pipe dream is still Taj and Rose for Kobe and a PF who defends and rebounds, but I know that ain't happening.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Like I said, I stopped abusing myself before the end of the first quarter, but in the game recaps that I read, it said that Mirotic helped the Bulls close the gap to with 4(41-37) in the second, then Aldridge and Lillard reentered the game and they went on an 18-2 run or something like that.

    I' rooting for Mirotic to become a legitimate starter sooner rather than later, I just don't think it will happen any time sooner than the start of next season, and even that depends on some kind of a resolution of the Gasol and Noah pairing, which I just don't see happening all that easily.

    Heck, I'm rooting for the same thing to happen with McPillsbury, but that doesn't look like its happening for completely different reasons.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Well, the Lakers have that Ed Davis guy, who might be a poor mans Noah, defense, energy and rebounds, and he is a PF rather than a legitimate center.

    Besides the fact that the Bulls would get crucified for trading a 26 yr old Rose for a 36 yr old Kobe, would you really want Kobe on this team? Wouldn't his mentality and ball hogging just kill our chemistry, especially now that he has the shooting percentage of Allen Iverson, 40%.

  • As for Hangdog, he is kind of like that old comedy line about women, can't live with em, can't shoot em.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Pretty much. Unless we can trade Taj for a PG that can run an offense.

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    Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. The same year (1980), as a student assistant at Seeger Memorial High School in West Lebanon, IN, he was one of the first in the world to use, study and implement analytics in basketball. He attended Daytona State College and Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (NBA Runaround: The NBA According to Ellis) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters), where he was fortunate enough to work with many rising stars, including NFL Network's Dan Hellie, Redskins coach Jay Gruden, Magic radio and TV personality Dante Marchitelli, and WSB-TV (Atlanta) Sports Director Zach Klein. In addition to running the Bullsville blog and officiating basketball, baseball and football for the KHSAA, he is also a bass player and vocalist who writes and produces music in his spare time (you may remember his internet hit "I Hate Eddy Curry"). He's a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. He's seen Primus 9 times and thinks Les Claypool walks on water. By far his greatest accomplishment is being a father of three and grandfather of one.

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