We've been hearing about Nikola Mirotic for years, and now we're finally going to get to see him play in a Bulls uniform:
This was always the first offseason that saw the chance of Mirotic coming over because he was off the rookie scale, and while there initially was some questions about him coming, those were mostly erased due to his somewhat messy exit with Real Madrid. With Mirotic agreeing to the Real Madrid buyout several weeks ago, the Bulls had basically all the leverage in negotiations.
After the signing of Pau Gasol, the obvious move was using the rest of their cap space (at least we think it's cap space) on Mirotic. The deal will be for three years and roughly $17 million:
Euro star Nikola Mirotic's deal with the Chicago Bulls will be three years, $17M-plus, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 13, 2014
[Note by JayPatt, 07/13/14 6:32 PM CDT Woj says the Bulls are using the MLE on Mirotic, which would only be possible if Gasol is acquired in a sign-and-trade. Either Woj made a mistake or there's a S+T in the works.]
With the signing of Mirotic, you can kiss goodbye any chance of him being moved to Minnesota in a potential Kevin Love trade in the near future. Mirotic can be traded 30 days after signing, but right now, it's looking like the Bulls have zero intention to move him. They clearly value him highly (as they likely should), reportedly even turning down a top-10 pick in the draft for him:
Bulls had a chance to trade Mirotic for late top-10 pick in this draft and refused - to give a sense of where they value him— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) July 12, 2014
A brief aside about Love. It seems the Bulls have made little effort of late to actually pursue a trade. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune says Flip Saunders wants Mirotic, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Doug McDermott, which is quite the haul. I'm not sure it would actually take that much to get Love, although the Bulls might have no chance at him anyway if Cavs relent on Andrew Wiggins or Warriors on Klay Thompson.
But back to the current team. With the additions of Mirotic and Gasol, the Bulls will have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. It'll certainly be interesting to see how much Mirotic plays this first year, because his skills should be very useful to a Bulls team that needs all the help on offense it can get. I wonder if Thibs will use any jumbo lineups that feature Mirotic at the 3, and even if they don't, there will be some intriguing combinations at Thibs' disposal.
Barring something unexpected, the Bulls' offseason is basically done besides rounding out the roster with minimums. The team will certainly be better with the additions made and Derrick Rose coming back, but I must admit that I'm a bit underwhelmed. I was really hoping for more wing help, and there will still be more offensive pressure on Rose than I would like. Adding shooters in Mirotic and McDermott is great, but the lack of shot creators remains a problem. With the Eastern Conference wide open, I still could see the Bulls getting to the Finals if everything goes right, but I can't see a Finals victory over a West team.