Nikola Mirotic finally has his new deal from the Chicago Bulls. Just a day before the opening of training camp, Mirotic agreed to a two-year, $27 million deal, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania and other media reports. The second year of the deal is a team option, meaning Niko has the right to veto any trade in the first year of the contract.
Even as the summer dragged on and Mirotic didn’t have a new contract, most people figured he’d be back in Chicago. Both sides were open about a desire to get a deal done, and Mirotic spent the offseason working out at the Bulls’ facilities. I kind of figured he’d simply wind up with his $7.2 million qualifying offer, but this is a deal that’s fair for both sides. Mirotic gets about $5 million more in Year 1 than if he signed the qualifying offer, and the Bulls keep some flexibility with that team option.
Mirotic has been wildly inconsistent with the Bulls, as we know all too well. When he’s on he can be a serious weapon as a stretch 4, but when he’s off he’s often an absolute train wreck. The Bulls have consistently been a better team with Mirotic on the floor, though, and they feel they can get more out of him.
With Jimmy Butler gone and the Bulls heading into rebuilding mode, Mirotic should have a larger opportunity to show off his skill set. There will be questions about minutes with Bobby Portis and rookie Lauri Markkanen also on the roster, but expect Mirotic to see plenty of chances to produce.
In terms of the cap, Mirotic’s new deal will bring the Bulls to around $91 million. That’s still about $8 million short of the salary cap, but they’ve been operating above the cap all summer because of their exceptions/cap holds:
Here’s the Bulls’ updated cap sheet following the Mirotic deal: pic.twitter.com/uStf2FPDTf— Sean Highkin (@highkin) September 24, 2017
Things could potentially change if/when Dwyane Wade is bought out and the Bulls get enough savings to go far enough below the cap to make using space worth it, but for now they’re operating above the cap and able to use the $11.5 million left of the Jimmy Butler trade exception to take on a contract and get an asset out of it.
Looking ahead, that team option gives the Bulls the chance to either keep Mirotic if they like what they see this year or dump him to create more cap space. The Bulls are set to be one of only a few teams to have significant cap space in 2018.