The Jazz are engaged in discussions with the Bulls about a potential trade involving Nikola Mirotic, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. While nothing is imminent, Jones hears that talks have moved “past the preliminary stage and [are] getting serious.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first linked Mirotic to the Jazz on Monday, suggesting that Quin Snyder‘s reputation for maximizing offensive talent had “intrigued” the Bulls’ power forward. While it wasn’t clear at that point if the interest was mutual, Jones confirms that the Jazz are exploring the possibility of acquiring Mirotic. K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune also reported that Utah had expressed interest in the veteran forward.
Mirotic, who is in the first season of a two-year deal that features a $12.5MM team option for 2018/19, will become trade-eligible on January 15. Any deal involving him would require his approval, but that’s not expected to be a major roadblock — the relationship between Mirotic and the Bulls has been shaky, particularly after an altercation between Mirotic and teammate Bobby Portis in the fall. If Mirotic’s ability to veto a deal becomes an issue, the Bulls could always circumvent that by exercising his second-year option, assuming their potential trade partner is on board.
As for Chicago’s potential return in a Mirotic deal, the team has “made it clear” that the asking price is a first-round pick with no long-term contracts attached, per Johnson. Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes that the Bulls – in talks with the Jazz – aren’t interested in taking on Alec Burks, whose $10.85MM salary would match up nicely with Mirotic’s $12.5MM cap hit.
Burks has a guaranteed $11.54MM salary for 2018/19, so Chicago’s willingness to absorb that contract may hinge on the draft compensation attached. The Bulls may push instead for a player like Joe Johnson ($10.5MM) or Derrick Favors ($12MM), both of whom are on expiring contracts.