Gary Dineen/Getty Images
Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic will sit out for the foreseeable future as the team attempts to trade him before the NBA’s Feb. 8 deadline.
Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago reported the news Wednesday.
The Bulls had an agreement in principle to send Mirotic to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, but it fell apart for the time being, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. Mirotic is reportedly waiting on the team to exercise his $12.5 million option for the 2018-19 season. He has the right to veto any deal before that option is picked up.
The Pelicans were set to send Omer Asik and a future first-round pick to Chicago. Their unwillingness to guarantee Mirotic’s salary for next season has led to a stalemate.
Without the Bulls first exercising the option for next season on Mirotic’s contract, he would lose his Bird rights, which would prohibit the Pelicans (or any other team) from going over the cap to re-sign him to a new deal. Chicago will now in all likelihood seek out trade partners that are willing to guarantee the second season of Mirotic’s contract.
Should Mirotic continue performing at his current level, he would be well worth the money. He’s averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while knocking down 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts. The Bulls have been a markedly better team since he returned from a preseason injury that he suffered in a fight with teammate Bobby Portis during practice.
“I’m not going to talk about the trade. You have to talk with my agents,” Mirotic told reporters Wednesday. “We’re discussing. We’re thinking. I’m sure they’re going to make the best decision for me. I’m just doing my job, which is playing good. My representatives, they’re doing their job. I have confidence they’re going to do the best they can and they’ll do what’s best for me.”
Given the reported details of the New Orleans trade offer, it appears the Bulls are willing to take back a bad contract for Mirotic, provided they receive a first-round pick. Asik has two years remaining on his contract worth a little over $23 million, although only $3 million is guaranteed in 2019-20.