(CBS) Spanish League star Nikola Mirotic, whom the Bulls hold exclusive rights to, has chosen to leave his Real Madrid team and come to Chicago, according to a report from hoopshype.com.
While this is a clear indication that Mirotic should be in a Bulls uniform next season, nothing is official, and the sides are still negotiating, the Chicago Tribune reported. Mirotic has a buyout from Real Madrid that’s reportedly around $3 million, and the Bulls can only pay $600,000 toward that without counting it toward their salary cap, per NBA rules. Chicago can give Mirotic more money to help Mirotic pay the remainder of the buyout, but the extra money will eat up cap space in that instance.
Mirotic reportedly had issues with his coach in Spain recently that has accelerated the process of bringing him stateside.
With Carlos Boozer on the roster still, the Bulls remain over the salary cap. If they stay there, they could potentially bring Mirotic over with the mid-level exception, which starts at $5.3 million. They could also use a portion of about $11 million in cap space to sign Mirotic if they use the amnesty provision on Boozer.
Chicago acquired Mirotic in a draft day deal in 2011, and he’s now played overseas long enough to command more than a rookie-scale deal. At 6-foot-10 and around 210 pounds, the 23-year-old Mirotic is considered a stretch four and could complement fellow Bulls big men Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, who aren’t much of outside shooting threats.
If the Bulls sign Mirotic, they can’t trade him for 30 days, according to CBA guru Mark Deeks.
The Bulls are still pursuing free agent star forward Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to make a decision by weekend’s end, but bringing Mirotic over is certainly part of the contingency plan if that fails.
The Bulls also met with big man Pau Gasol on Thursday in Los Angeles, but they left the meeting expecting his decision to take awhile, the Chicago Tribune reported.