4:37pm: The Bulls will hold Mirotic out of games while they attempt to trade him, a source tells Goodwill (Twitter link). According to ESPN’s Nick Friedell (Twitter link), Mirotic won’t play until after the trade deadline or until Chicago completes a deal.
1:00pm: For a brief time on Tuesday, it appeared that the Pelicans and Bulls were about to finalize a deal that would send Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans. In fact, according to Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago, an agreement was so close that Mirotic was pulled off the Bulls’ practice floor and left the facility, believing that his time in Chicago was ending.
Instead, the trade hit a snag — or, more accurately, a pair of related snags. Until Mirotic’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19 is exercised, he has the ability to block any trade that involves him, and as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweets, the power forward is unwilling to approve a move to New Orleans without that option being picked up.
Conversely, the Pelicans like the idea of having flexibility with that ’18/19 option, since exercising it may complicate the team’s ability to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a new mega-deal. New Orleans would still have the ability to re-sign Cousins, but with both big men on board for next season, the team would likely go over the tax line, a threshold ownership has been reluctant to cross.
According to Johnson, neither Mirotic nor the Pelicans appear willing to change their stance on that $12.5MM option for now, so it’s not clear if the Bulls and Pels will be able to make a deal before the February 8 deadline. I’m somewhat surprised the option is a sticking point for New Orleans — given the way Mirotic has been playing, his $12.5MM expiring deal should be pretty tradable this July, if necessary. But perhaps the Pelicans don’t want take the risk of Mirotic suffering a major injury or having his value decline in the coming months.
With talks between the Bulls and Pelicans at an impasse, the Jazz have continued their pursuit of Mirotic, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. However, the Jazz remain reluctant to include a first-round pick in their offer, according to Jones. Goodwill adds that the Bulls are “enamored with” Utah’s Rodney Hood, but says that the Jazz have been unwilling to part with Hood in a Mirotic deal thus far.