Nikola Mirotic paid a lot of money to join the Chicago Bulls this summer.
The reported buyout from his European team was more than $3 million, and the Bulls could contribute only $600,000 without it counting against the cap (though I’m not certain they did). That left a lot for Mirotic to cover.
And what has it gotten him?
His name mentioned in Kevin Love trade rumors.
Technically, Chicago can’t trade Mirotic until Aug. 17. As applies to Andrew Wiggins, draft picks can’t be traded for 30 days after signing.
However, the Bulls and Timberwolves can discuss a trade involving Mirotic now as long as they wait to officially complete it.
There’s just one hitch.
Mirotic bought out his contract with Real Madrid of the Spanish League only after the Bulls committed to keeping him in Chicago, according to a source familiar with negotiations.
Sometimes, conditions of such agreements – “We won’t trade you unless…” – get lost in the game of telephone from management to the player to the media, and there could be other people in the chain between those links. The miscommunication possibility is even more likely with someone like Mirotic, who admits his English is not good. (How is Gar Foreman’s Montenegrin?)
However, for the sake of this post, let’s assume the Bulls expressly promised Mirotic they’d keep him in Chicago.
Since signing Mirotic, they’ve added Pau Gasol, another big man who will eat up minutes. It seems possible the Bulls and Mirotic could have mutually agreed to lift the trade embargo, even if him remaining in Chicago remains the preferred option.
Of course, these concerns are purely ethical rather than technical. Mirotic doesn’t have a no-trade clause, and from Aug. 17 on, the Bulls can unilaterally trade him. That’s just a pitfall of playing in the NBA, which doesn’t allow no-trade clauses unless a player has spent eight years in the league and four with the team signing him.
But if the Bulls promised not to trade Mirotic for a period of time, they should honor that.
And if they can get Love, they should try their hardest to talk Mirotic into the beauty of Minnesota.