It sounds as if Nikola Mirotic vetoed Bulls-Pelicans trade

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
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Nikola Mirotic reportedly wanted Chicago to trade him after after a preseason practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis left Mirotic hospitalized. And the Bulls appear ready to satisfy that request.

They even neared a deal with the Pelicans that would have netted a first-round pick (and come with the burden of accepting Omer Asik‘s contract).

Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

Mirotic signed a two-year, $25 million contract with a team option last offseason. But because that option hasn’t been exercised, it’s technically a one-year contract right now. So, as someone on a one-year contract who’d have Bird Rights next summer, Mirotic automatically gets the right to veto any trade.

One way around that: Chicago – with New Orleans’ blessing, of course – could exercise Mirotic’s team option. That’d turn his contract into a two-year deal and nullify his trade-veto power.

But it sounds as if the Pelicans won’t accept Mirotic with his $12.5 million salary next season guaranteed and he won’t accept a trade to New Orleans unless it is.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Wojnarowski doesn’t outright say Mirotic exercised his veto power. But that’s what I infer.

It’s also possible the deal fell apart for other reasons and someone is trying to scapegoat Mirotic.

Mirotic can’t be sure New Orleans will exercise that option after the season. But he can’t be sure Chicago will, either. Presumably, he’d rather spend the rest of this season with the playoff-contending Pelicans than the lottery-bound Bulls, especially with Portis still in Chicago.

But Mirotic has leverage. He can wait for more favorable destinations – places he’d prefer to New Orleans the rest of this season and/or teams willing to guarantee his 2018-19 salary now.

Of course, that could backfire. More desirable suitors might not emerge. The Bulls could become less cooperative and keep him. The Pelicans might move on, as they try to reinforce their roster with DeMarcus Cousins injured.

New Orleans is probably wary of how expensive its roster would get with Mirotic and a re-signed Cousins. But the way Mirotic has played so far this season, maybe the Pelicans could flip him for value next summer. That’s a risk, though, and Cousins is probably still the priority.

It’s hard enough for two teams to agree on a trade. When a player must also consent, it gets far more complicated.