Nikola Mirotic rumors: Report suggests it may not take much to bring Euro Star stateside

could we have been wrong about what Mirotic is currently being paid?

Jay linked to a great Bulls offseason analysis by Basketball Insiders's (formerly HoopsWorld) Nate Duncan, which detailed a lot of moving parts. One of particular note was his thoughts on Bulls draftee Nikola Mirotic.

Because Mirotic is limited to negotiating with the Bulls, they should be able to get him far more cheaply than on the open market. The best figures I have found on Mirotic's current salary indicate he makes approximately $1.4 million per year, with a buyout of approximately $3.4 million. The Bulls can pay $600,000 of this buyout.

It might then be realistic to sign Mirotic to a three-year contract starting at $3.5 million per year with the maximum allowable 4.5 percent annual raises.

Emphasis mine, since Duncan is kind of stepping out with this reporting, here. He could be totally wrong which makes the rest of this fantasy, but if not...

The consensus figure we previously had on Mirotic's Real Madrid salary was $4.4m, which is a major difference than what Duncan is using. In fact, Duncan himself had Mirotic under that amount until 'multiple sources' told him that Mirotic was actually making far less currently.

Under that previous salary figure, I was assuming that there was no way Mirotic was coming over even for the full MLE ($5.305m) this offseason. My theory being that Mirotic would reason that the MLE offer would be there next offseason, too, and by then he wouldn't have to divert his earnings to such a significant buyout. Of course there is incentive for Mirotic to come to the NBA and get the clock started on his next contract ASAP, but not enough to compensate for the buyout.

But *if* we now think Mirotic isn't currently making nearly as much as he would with even his first NBA deal, Duncan lays out how the buyout can be paid even with a contract lower than the MLE.

For Duncan's idea of a $3.5m contract, he lays out how the buyout could work using some CBA machinations surrounding signing bonuses and early payouts.

  1. maximum 15 percent signing bonus of approximately $1.6 million
  2. 25 percent of his $2.9 million base salary at signing (maximum allowable salary advance)
  3. Another 25 percent on October 1 (the earliest allowable date after signing)

Duncan concludes:

This would enable him to pay his buyout with Real Madrid assuming some modicum of flexibility from the Spanish club on the payment date. He would still keep about $1.5 million for 2014-15, followed by $3.1 million and $3.2 million the next two years.

So that's very interesting. While Ken Berger of CBSSports had reported months ago that Mirotic could potentially command less than the MLE, it seemed far more outlandish using the old figure for Mirotic's current salary.

For their part, the Bulls have given us nothing on their ability to sign Mirotic this offseason. Part of it is that he's more of an afterthought given the fluidity (ugh, ok, "flexibility") of their cap situation in chasing a Free Agent (or not). The ambiguity of the Bulls plans is also because while Gar Forman hasn't sounded too confident and his comments have been tough to decipher, that's probably also how he's seen ordering coffee.

To bring around this post to something more exciting than the realities of Mirotic's contract, Duncan also provides a concise scouting report, both from watching the Euroleague games and even taking a trip over there in the past:

Mirotic’s shooting would be nearly unparalleled at the power forward position. He also brings excellent passing, the abilities to attack off the bounce on closeouts and post up smaller players.

His defense and rebounding will not be a strength, but he is tough and shouldn’t be any worse than, say, a younger Luis Scola in those facets. He is worth perhaps as much as $8 million a year on the open market, so securing his services for only $3.5 million a year to start is probably the most efficient possible use of the Bulls’ cap space short of acquiring a true superstar.

So yeah, here's hoping. Not only would the news that Mirotic could be easier to bring over than thought previously be good for his future with the Bulls, he could become a lot more desirable as a trade asset in getting that 'true superstar'.
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