Independence Day. The most patriotic day of the year. Fireworks, cookouts, and the signing of Spanish basketball players.
Okay, maybe that last part isn’t the most traditional way to celebrate July 4th, but John Paxson and Gar Forman have decided that instead of grilling brats by Lake Michigan, they’d use the American holiday to pursue an international superstar in the making, Nikola Mirotić.
Source tells HoopsHype Nikola Mirotic's decision to go to Chicago is final. Will pay contract buyout at more than $3 million.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) July 4, 2014
Mirotić was originally drafted with the 23rd pick of the 2011 draft by the Houston Rockets, but the pick eventually found its way to Chicago. The Bulls have been holding onto the rights since then, and that’s given plenty of time for the hype surrounding the 6’10” Montenegrin to build.
This buyout doesn’t necessarily mean that Mirotić is a Bull yet, the team still has to sign him to a contract. Those negotiations are expected to begin soon.
This already has many fans asking if the Bulls have given up on Carmelo Anthony. More and more signs are reporting to the dynamic winger returning to New York, but the Bulls are regarded to be the top choice if Anthony really does want to win now. Signing Mirotić limits the amount of money that Chicago could offer, and while Mirotić has the potential to become a superstar, Anthony is one right now.
There’s also the possibility that Chicago wants to bring over Mirotić in order to make an all-out bid for the Timberwolves’ Kevin Love. If that trade does go through, it seems likely that the former Real Madrid forward would be a major piece of the package. The Love trade sweepstakes have cooled off a bit, but I’d still say if he does get moved, the Bulls are a very likely destination.
Of course, signing Mirotić could simply be a basketball move. He’s already a solid player, and would certainly be able to help the team from the start. In recent years, the Bulls have found success with a strong rotation of players, not a few superstars and then role players to fill in the gaps. If they can lock down Mirotic, add another guard to come off the bench, and then keep Mike Dunleavy, the team should be a contender in the very weak Eastern Conference.
But at the very least, the Bulls have granted Nikola Mirotić independence from Real Madrid, which is really the reason for this holiday right?