How Nikola Mirotic's season, and maybe his tenure, ended with Real Madrid

Jamie McDonald

The Bulls have been high on the Spanish forward since he was drafted, but a poor end with Real Madrid might have Chicago wanting to readjust its expectations.

[Note by JayPatt, 06/29/14 4:15 PM CDT Belated thanks to Lucas for writing this up. He's the editor of the SB Nation Real Madrid blog, Managing Madrid ]

The forward has changed his mind after head coach Pablo Laso decided to decrease his importance in Real Madrid's system.

It has not been an easy 2013-2014 season for Real Madrid Basketball. Under head coach Pablo Laso, the team signed one of Europe's most dominating Centers in Ioannis Bourousis in order to win their 9th European title. After all, that was what the team was lacking when they lost against Olympiakos in the 2013 Euroleague Final. With Bourousis on the roster, Real Madrid had the best team in Europe and they were also playing a very attractive style of basketball. Everything was going well, and Real Madrid managed to break Spain's record for most consecutive wins -28-, but a catastrophic loss against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 2014 Euroleague Final set the tone for yet another failure in the Spanish league Playoffs.

Nikola Mirotic, arguably one of the continent's greatest players, never performed that way this season. He was so angry after the loss against Maccabi that he decided to stay another year in the Spanish capital and play another season for Real Madrid before joining the NBA. His performance on that Final was so bad that he felt he owed something to the fanbase and the squad. But during the Spanish playoffs, something happened. Mirotic still struggled and head coach Pablo Laso decreased his importance in the team. He wasn't getting as many shots and minutes. It should be noted that Mirotic never was Real Madrid's franchise player. Rudy Fernández and Sergio Rodríguez are Laso's go-to guys, and although this might seem strange to some NBA fans that recall both Spanish players as mediocre, they're still able to dominate European basketball. But still, Mirotic appeared to play carelessly throughout the Playoffs, so Laso decided to bench him more often. He pretty much made Bostjan Nachbar an NBA All-Star with his mediocre defensive game against him. And now, Real Madrid's board is so tired of him that they want Mirotic to pay those 2.5M€ and join the NBA. That's not a lot of money in American basketball, but Real Madrid can do a lot with that money, so considering that Mirotic now wants to leave as well, both parts are ready to say good-bye.

It will not be easy for Mirotic to adapt to the NBA. He definitely has the skills to be an important player in the future, but his mentality and attitude is what should be worrying every Chicago Bulls fan. Mirotic wasn't ready to take a step forward when his team needed him, so how will he adapt to fight for a spot in a basketball team that will require him to prove himself? Those fans expecting a new version of Dirk Nowitzki need to lower their expectations. Again, he has the skills, just like many other players, but what makes a good basketball player into an All Star is a competitive mindset and hunger to be the best. Mirotic has not been that player in Europe's biggest competition for the club that raised him and shaped him into the player he is today. If Mirotic finds that mentality and desire to be the best and gets rid of his agent -whose advice isn't exactly good for him-, he will be able to succeed in the NBA and be an important player, but if he doesn't, his skills will not be enough against much tougher defensive matchups and a league in which is not easy to get guaranteed shots when playing alongside Derrick Rose or any other star players.

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