Niko trading season is nearly upon us and the scoops are beginning to fly in. Per ESPN.com writer Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Bulls are still planning to trade forward Nikola Mirotic, which can’t happen until Jan. 15 or without his permission, based on his contract. Mirotic has been intrigued with the Utah Jazz, whose coach, Quin Snyder, has a reputation for maximizing offensive talent.
The Chicago Sun-Times has repeatedly reported that Mirotic still wants out of Chicago despite the string of success the Bulls have enjoyed since he returned to action after suffering the facial injuries before the season.
Jan. 15 marks the first day that Mirotic can be traded. Chicago Tribune writer K.C. Johnson recently reported that if the Bulls pick up the team option on the second year of Mirotic’s contract, the bearded Montenegrin will lose his power to veto any trade. Otherwise, Mirotic has the power to veto trades if the Bulls don’t pick up the option.
Woj doesn’t say whether Utah is as interested in Mirotic as apparently Mirotic is in them, but the Jazz can certainly use Mirotic’s help offensively: they are 19th in the NBA in offensive rating, 22nd in points, and 12th in 3-point percentage (Mirotic is third in the NBA in 3-point percentage).
Having him around to spread the floor with a proven passer like Ricky Rubio and a guy who can get to the basket at-will in Donovan Mitchell will surely provide a boost for the Jazz’s offense.
The Jazz have two frontcourt players who can snipe the ball from 3-point land (Joe Ingles at 43.3 percent and Jonas Jerebko at 43.1 percent) so combining these guys with Mirotic could create issues for defenses for the same reasons why the Markkanen-Mirotic and Portis-Mirotic combinations have worked for the Bulls this season.
What would the Bulls get in return? The Jazz have all their own first round picks going forward, and because they have struggled this season the 2018 one could end up being in the late lottery (it’s currently slotted in at No. 11 based purely on descending order of team records). The Jazz also own two additional second round picks in 2021 and 2022 beyond their own selections.
Salary-wise, the Jazz are over the cap so need to send some salary out. Maybe taking on the expiring contract of Joe Johnson (he’s set to make $10.5 million this year before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season) is the necessary sweetener. The Bulls would theoretically then buy him out allowing him to join a contender to end the season. Our counterpart, SLCDunk, suggests that Derrick Favors ($12m, expiring) would be the one going to Chicago.
With trading season quickly approaching, expect the hot stove on Mirotic to continue to heat up.