Bulls

Bulls, Mirotic Both Hold Plenty Of Leverage

Nikola Mirotic, right. (Getty Images)

Nikola Mirotic, right. (Getty Images)

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(CBS) Be it the playoff push by the Knicks, reader fatigue or the recent hiring of Phil Jackson to run New York’s basketball operations, the recent talk of star Carmelo Anthony’s free agent prospects has subsided.

The Bulls, of course, have been a long-rumored suitor for Anthony, but if he chooses to stay in New York, Chicago’s most noteworthy offseason pursuit could be of Nikola Mirotic, a 6-foot-10 power forward and the team’s 2011 first-round draft pick who plays for Real Madrid in Spain’s top league. The Bulls hold exclusive rights to sign Mirotic, and if that’s the path they choose this summer, it could be a quite fascinating and unique negotiation.

Why’s that? Because both sides hold tremendous leverage, according to an article by Nate Duncan of basketballinsiders.com.

In short, here’s what the 23-year-old Mirotic has to his advantage, according to Duncan:

1. He enjoys playing in Spain — and is doing so for a championship team.

2. Factoring in the portion of the buyout he’d have to pay himself to Real Madrid, it’s feasible he could make more money in Spain next year than he would by taking the mid-level exception (about $5.3 million) in the NBA.

3. The Bulls need Mirotic and his offensive skills.

Here’s what the Bulls have to their advantage:

1. They hold his exclusive draft rights, so he can’t negotiate with anyone else or use another team as leverage. He has one and only one option to showcase his skills against the best in the world.

2. If Mirotic doesn’t come over to the NBA this summer, it delays by another year the signing of his second contract in the NBA. That’s important because a player’s second contract — and if it works out after that, his third one — is the lucrative, big-money deal that is coveted.

3. The Bulls could negotiate with other free agents while talking to Mirotic, so they can leverage others against him.

How it plays out, only time will tell, but it could be quite the negotiation. If you want more details about the Mirotic situation, including his buyout and the hurdles it presents, read Duncan’s full article here.