A deal between the Bulls and European prospect Nikola Mirotic is almost done, a source tells Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com. The terms are unclear, but his buyout from Real Madrid of Spain, which will cost the equivalent of more than $3MM, can be spread out over multiple seasons, Sam writes, making it much more feasible for the 6’10” forward to join the Bulls this year. Mirotic has reportedly already decided to come to the NBA for next season, though it appears he’s been seeking assurances from the Bulls that they won’t trade his rights.
Mirotic is the most intriguing of the NBA’s draft-and-stash prospects, with interest only growing since he became the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 draft. He put up modest numbers of 12.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game for Real Madrid this past season, but he shot 40.9% from behind the three-point line.
The Bulls aren’t bound by the rookie scale, since it’s been three years since Mirotic was drafted, but they can only pay $600K of his buyout this season, meaning the rest would have to come out of Mirotic’s salary. Still, if Real Madrid is willing to spread the buyout payments, it might not require a salary larger than the $5.305MM mid-level exception to bring him stateside. Estimates have varied from well above that amount to only $3MM.
The Bulls will probably hold off until they know definitively that they’re out of the running for Carmelo Anthony before striking a deal with Mirotic, although that’s just my speculation. Anthony appears likely to re-sign with the Knicks, but he has yet to deliver his final decision.