Tag: Nikola Mirotic

Nikola Mirotic, Joakim Noah

You have yet to see the best Nikola Mirotic, if you ask Nikola Mirotic


It’s natural for a player to make a leap between their first and second seasons in the NBA — they’ve adjusted to the style and level of play, the travel, plus they are working hard on their games.

That can be a little less consistent with European players who played at a high level overseas — their game has already been pushed to a degree. There is often improvement, but not the leaps you see in a guy turning 20.

The Bulls Nikola Mirotic could be the exception and make a big leap in production his coming second season. The reason starts with new coach Fred Hoiberg, who will likely give him real run and responsibilities from Day 1. Mirotic told Hoopshype to expect him to be improved, in the context of a question where he was asked about if the timing was right last season for him to jump to the NBA.

“So I felt the need to change. It was three years since Chicago drafted me and I waited for the right time to make the move. You can tell the timing was right by the kind of season I had. Some people may have been surprised with my performance, but those who know me know the best Mirotic is yet to come….

“Next year I guess I’m going to have more of a featured role with the team and that’s just another motivation to work extra hard so when the team needs me I’m ready to deliver.”

After the All-Star Game last season, Mirotic averaged 16 points a game with an above-average true shooting percentage of 56 percent, plus he grabbed 6.3 rebounds a game. In March, he averaged 20.8 points per game, and crawled into the Rookie of the Year conversation. Then in the playoffs Tom Thibodeau reduced Mirotic’s minutes, and he struggled shooting just 30 percent.

New coach Fred Hoiberg — with his more open, up-tempo, modern NBA offense — is going to lean on Mirotic more and more starting opening night. He’s going to count on Mirotic to space the floor (he needs to be more consistent from three) and move the ball. It should be a more comfortable setting for Mirotic.

He should improve. The Bulls are counting on little improvements and guys just staying healthy with a more reasonable minutes distribution to take them to the next level. We’ll see if that’s enough. But if it is, Mirotic is going to have a healthy sized role in all of it.

What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics

EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)

Report: Timberwolves in talks with Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica

Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul- CSKA Moscow: Turkish Airlines Euroleague

On draft night in 2010, Minnesota agreed to a trade with Washington for the No. 35 pick, the rights to Serbian Nemanja Bjelica. Then they stashed him overseas, where he has continued to develop and look like a guy they could use — last season he was the Euroleague MVP.

Now the Timberwolves are looking to bring the 6’10” point forward over for the next few seasons, reports Shams Charania at Real GM.

Euroleague star Nemanja Bjelica is in serious discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves on an approximate three-year, $12 million-plus deal, but the two sides have been exploring all options, league sources told RealGM…. Around the league, there’s active trade interest in the Serbian forward, sources said.

In an NBA trending toward spacing the floor and versatile lineup, Bjelica is a good fit because he can play the three or the four, plus take on some ball handling responsibilities. He shot 37 percent from three last season, and he pulled down more than eight rebounds a game as well for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce Ulker.

Minnesota is strong at the three with Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad. At the four there is Gorgui Dieng and behind him Anthony Bennett (who is being shopped) as well as Adreian Payne. You could see Bjelica being able to step in and get good minutes off the bench at the four, sort of in a Nikola Mirotic kind of way (with a different style game, but in terms of usage they could be similar).

Minnesota is assembling a very nice roster, one that could do a lot of damage in a few years if they can keep the core together and develop them.

What kind of coach is Chicago getting with Fred Hoiberg?

Fred Hoiberg

The Chicago Bulls have their guy — Fred Hoiberg officially will be introduced as the new coach of the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. Bulls GM Gar Forman was an assistant coach at Iowa State when Hoiberg starred for that team (before his 10-year NBA career), that long-standing relationship was the foundation upon which this deal would ultimately get done.

But what kind of coach is Chicago getting?

In a lot of ways, the anti-Thibodeau.

“He already has the demeanor of an NBA coach: He’s not a yeller or a screamer, he’s not a recruiter or a salesmen, he’s not born to be a CEO of a program,” Rob Dauster of our sister site CollegeBasketballTalk.com. He’s even-keeled, the kind of guy that will let players do whatever they want as long as they understand that mistakes — on and off the court — mean the bench.”

Hoiberg is considered a players’ coach, but not in the “they can do whatever they want” way. More in the Jeff Hornacek or Brad Stevens way — guys who don’t let their ego get the better of them in making decisions.

Hoiberg also an offensive minded coach who will bring the Bulls out of the old-school, conventional system they have been running.

“Offensively, he’s brilliant, running sets that thrive on creating space and isolating mismatches, which is what the NBA game is all about these days,” Dauster say. “I think he’s going to have a lot of success at that level.”

A more creative offensive system was one of the things the Bulls had said they wanted from their new coach.

Another thing the Bulls said they were looking for was a communicator — which was not-so-subtle code for “someone who listens to us.” Unlike Thibodeau. Someone who will engage with the front office on the matter of reduced minutes for Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Jimmy Butler. Someone who will give Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell, and Doug McDerrmott more run to build up the bench. Hoiberg will do all that. He spent three years in the Timberwolves front office; he understands that side of the desk. He also understands getting guys to play to their strengths.

“The biggest reason that I think Fred Hoiberg will have success in the NBA is that he understands how to manage talent,” Dauster added. “There’s a reason that so many talented cast-offs from other programs found success in his program.”

The Bulls front office finally got they guy they wanted.

Although, there is one caveat:

Thibodeau won.

The NBA is a bottom line business, and Thibodeau delivered on the bottom line. He is a defensive innovator and a Team USA Coach. Thibs teams won. Yes, he wore down players, and that could have hastened injuries. Yes, some of those same players were pretty burnt out on him by the end. But they won for him.

For all the communication, no matter how much better he utilizes players and reduces minutes, no matter how creative the offense, if the team doesn’t win things could turn ugly in Chicago.

And that will be on the front office, too. This was their move.



Three coaches who may replace Tom Thibodeau in Chicago


It was time.

But now the Bulls have to do better than the guy they had. That is not going to be easy.

Tom Thibodeau is one of the better, more successful coaches in the NBA. He’s also a hard-driving guy who physically and mentally wore out his charges, guys who did not want him back as the coach. Thibodeau changed the NBA game with his defense, but his offense was conventional, lagging far behind what innovative teams — Golden State, San Antonio — had done to counter his defenses. The blood was bad in Chicago, time for everyone to move on.

That doesn’t excuse the quiet smear job Bulls management has been doing to Thibodeau — up to and including his firing — but there’s a ring of truth to all of it.

Thibodeau will land on his feet somewhere. He’s sought after, and as a classic workaholic he incapable of taking a year off to backpack through Thailand. Or whatever.

Now what direction do the Bulls go?

Bulls GM Gar Forman tried to play his cards close to his vest Thursday at the press conference. (From PBT’s Sean Highkin, who was at the press conference.)

“I just don’t think we’re going to put ourselves in a box. I know that’s kind of an easy thing to say, but we’ve got certain criteria, some of which I’ve already said, but we’re not going to put ourselves in a box that it had to have been a head coach, an assistant, what level they’ve coached at. We’re really looking for the right fit. I went through some of those things that I talked about, obviously someone that could lead, someone that can communicate at a high level, has a great knowledge of the game. Obviously experience is a plus, as far as coaching is concerned. If they’ve been a head coach, even more so. But we’re not going to limit the search in any way.”

Sure. That is a PR crafted statement. The truth is they pretty much are limiting their serious search to these three guys:

1) Fred Hoiberg. The current Iowa State coach — and former 10-year NBA player and front office executive with Minnesota — has long been on the top of the Chicago Bulls list. He’s considered the most NBA-ready of the college coaches by GMs around the league, there will not be as much learning on the job as with most college coaches. The question is does he want to make the leap to the NBA right now? Hoiberg grew up in Ames, Iowa, the hometown of Iowa State. That’s where he played his college ball. He’s called the mayor there for a reason. Plus, he recently had a heart procedure — is deep-dish pizza and NBA hours/stress what he wants in his life right now?

2) Alvin Gentry. He’s sort of the anti-Thibodeau — a player-friendly coach whose strength is on the offensive end. He was the lead assistant in Golden State this year where his fingerprints are all over the Warriors’ prolific offense. The season before he was Doc Rivers’ lead assistant in charge of a Clippers’ offense that has been the most efficient in the league for a couple seasons. There is plenty of talent in Chicago — Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler (who will re-sign in Chicago), Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell, Doug McDermott, plus Mike Dunleavy. If the Bulls want to change course, this is the best call.

3) Adrian Griffin. The Bulls current lead assistant keeps the job in house but promotes a guy a lot of the league sees as an assistant ready for the move to the big chair. He’s a former NBA player who is credited with the development of guys like Jimmy Butler (who just one Most Improved Player). The guys in the locker room love him.  He’s not a bad choice, but he is Plan C — if Hoiberg and Gentry both pass on Chicago, Griffin’s phone will ring.