Nikola Mirotic

International Notes: Bertans, Mozgov, Mirotic, Motiejunas

Having being waived by the Pelicans on Sunday, Dairis Bertans didn’t waste much time in lining up a new home, with a report indicating that he had reached an agreement to sign with Russian club Khimki.

The Moscow Region-based team made it official earlier today, announcing (via Twitter) that Bertans is joining Khimki on a two-year deal. The veteran shooting guard technically hasn’t even cleared NBA waivers yet – that won’t happen until Tuesday – but presumably agent Arturs Kalnitis and Khimki management are both confident that no team will place a claim on Davis Bertans‘ older brother.

Here are a few more international notes related to NBA veterans:

  • Bertans isn’t the only player on NBA waivers receiving interest from Khimki. A source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando that the Russian club is also trying to bring center Timofey Mozgov back to his home country, and hopes to reach a deal in the near future. Artem Komarov (Twitter link) first reported the talks between Khimki and Mozgov, who was released by the Magic on Saturday.
  • Nikola Mirotic officially signed with Barcelona on Saturday, with the club issuing a press release to announce the deal. According to the team, Mirotic’s contract will span three years, with a fourth-year option for the 2022/23 season. The veteran power forward was expected to receive a three-year offer in the $45MM range from Utah, but opted to return to Spain instead.
  • After appearing briefly in three games for the Spurs down the stretch in 2018/19, power forward Donatas Motiejunas appears likely to head back overseas. According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, Motiejunas is receiving significant interest from the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Motiejunas’ former CBA team in Shandong must decide by July 15 whether to make him a restricted free agent, as Carchia explains.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Broekhoff, Bradley, G. Green

The Mavericks’ first two moves when free agency begins tomorrow will involve Tobias Harris and Kristaps Porzingis, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. A source tells Townsend the Mavs will make an offer to Harris that’s below the maximum, and they expect the Sixers to top it with a full, five-year max deal. They plan to make their own max offer to Porzingis, a restricted free agent, paying him $158MM over five seasons. That signing won’t be finalized until all the other moves are in place, allowing the team to take advantage of its $30.3MM in cap room.

Thirteen of Dallas’ top 15 free agent targets remain on the board after a day that featured several reported deals, Townsend adds. The only ones crossed off the list are Kemba Walker, who will join the Celtics, and Nikola Mirotic, who has committed to play in Spain. Walker was the Mavericks’ primary target, according to Townsend, and Harris was secondary, while the rest are divided into various “two- and three-player contingencies.”

There’s more tonight from the Southwest Division:

  • Ryan Broekhoff‘s $1.4MM contract is fully guaranteed for next season after the Mavericks let today’s deadline pass without taking any action, Townsend tweets. The 28-year-old shooting guard signed with Dallas last summer and appeared in 42 games as a rookie.
  • Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley has agreed to extend the guarantee date on his contract from July 3 to July 8, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic. The move gives Bradley greater flexibility after the moratorium lifts, notes Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian, who adds that there was no financial compensation for the change (Twitter link).
  • There’s a strong possibility that veteran forward Gerald Green will return to the Rockets for another season, according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic (Twitter link). A Houston native, Green signed with the organization midway through the 2017/18 season, then played this year on a veteran’s minimum contract.

Free Agency Notes: Mirotic, Kanter, Knicks

Nikola Mirotic helped kick off free agency weekend by opting to play in Barcelona next season. It’s a surprising development considering he was a coveted free agent.

The Jazz had their eye on Mirotic and had “major interest” in trying to sign him to a three-year deal in the $45MM range, Marc Stein of The New York Times hears (Twitter link). The market for stretch fours is even thinner now after Mirotic’s decision.

Let’s take a look at more free agency notes from around the league:

  • The Clippers have interest in Enes Kanter, Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard reports (Twitter link). Broussard also confirms that the Celtics and Lakers are eyeing the center, as was previously reported.
  • There’s been no indication that the Celtics are still pursuing Clint Capela, whether it be a Rockets‘ sign-and-trade involving Jimmy Butler or any scenario, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. Capela had previously been linked to Boston.
  • The Knicks will not extend a qualifying offer to Isaiah Hicks, Ian Begley of SNY.tv tweets. Hicks was on a two-way contract last season.
  • New York has interest in George Hill and Wayne Ellington, Begley relays in a full-length piece. Both veterans will be targets regardless of whether the Knicks land any stars in free agency.

Nikola Mirotic To Play In Barcelona

Veteran power forward Nikola Mirotic will sign with EuroLeague club Barcelona, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The terms of his deal have not yet been disclosed.

On the heels of Darren Collison‘s stunning retirement announcement, this is another surprising decision that takes a second high-quality free agent off the market just before the new league year begins.

Mirotic was expected to be in line for a deal worth approximately $45-50MM if he had remained in the NBA, Charania adds. He made $12.5MM during the 2018/19 season, though he was forced to move to Milwaukee when the Pelicans dealt him to the Bucks at the trade deadline.

The 28-year-old’s decision makes the Bucks’ offseason priority a little clearer. Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez, and Khris Middleton are all in need of new contracts and it would have been difficult for Milwaukee to bring back all of their pending free agents.

There were whispers that Mirotic would consider a deal in Spain, as Sportando recently relayed. He had played for Real Madrid prior to coming over to the NBA in 2014.

The Mavericks and Jazz were among the teams expected to have interest in Mirotic. Since coming to the league in 2014, Mirotic has seen action in 319 contests.

Mannix’s Latest: Celtics, Brogdon, Lakers, Favors, Ross

With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford expected to sign elsewhere and Aron Baynes having been re-routed to Phoenix, the Celtics have the ability to create about $25.8MM — or up to $34MM-ish if they renounce Terry Rozier.

As Chris Mannix of SI.com notes in his latest look at free agency, Kemba Walker has been linked to the Celtics this week, but he’s not the only free agent the club is considering. According to Mannix, Boston has internally discussed the possibility of pursuing Bucks RFA-to-be Malcolm Brogdon.

There has also been speculation about Bradley Beal as a potential trade target for the Celtics, but that probably won’t be an option, according to Mannix, who notes that Beal (a favorite of team owner Ted Leonsis) has been told by the Wizards that he won’t be dealt. Even if Beal were available, there’s a feeling in Boston that it might take Jayson Tatum to acquire him, Mannix adds.

Here’s more from Mannix:

  • The Lakers have shopped their “spare parts” in trade discussions, but talks have gone nowhere so far, league sources tell Mannix. Presumably, Mannix is referring to Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones, who would have to be rolled into the Lakers’ Anthony Davis blockbuster for the club to maximize its cap room.
  • While it seems likely that he’ll be back, the Jazz haven’t necessarily locked in on retaining Derrick Favors, who has a non-guaranteed $17.65MM contract. Mannix suggests that Nikola Mirotic could be a name worth keeping an eye for Utah on if Favors is released to create cap room.
  • The Magic have been “steadfast” in their desire to re-sign top free agents Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, and some within the organization are anxious to see what their market value will be, writes Mannix. Ross may be a candidate to receive a big contract offer from a team in need of a three-and-D wing, according to Mannix, who speculates that the sharpshooter could command $15MM per year.

Bucks Rumors: Brogdon, Lopez, Hill, Mirotic

After entering the exclusive 50/40/90 shooting club in 2018/19, Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon will be a sought-after target this offseason. Sources tell Gery Woelfel of WoelfelsPressBox.com that the Sixers and Pacers are among the teams considering making a play for the restricted free agent.

Four NBA sources who spoke to Woelfel predicted that Brogdon would receive an offer in the range of $16-21MM per year. And while most of those sources have heard that the Bucks plan to match any offer on Brogdon, they’re not all entirely convinced that will happen.

“They can say that now, but I’m sure the Bucks, just like any team, have a cutoff point where they won’t go over to keep him,” an Eastern Conference executive said to Woelfel. “I still think he (Brogdon) is the odd guy out in Milwaukee.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe expressed a similar sentiment during the network’s free agency special on Tuesday night. As relayed by Sagar Trika (via Twitter), the two ESPN insiders discussed whether Milwaukee would be able to retain all three of Brogdon, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez, and agreed that Brogdon might be the trickiest to bring back.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • The Bucks and Brook Lopez are both motivated to get a deal done, a source tell Chris Mannix of SI.com. Woelfel’s sources believe Lopez will get an annual salary in the range of $10-13MM in free agency, and view Los Angeles as a potential fit for the big man if he doesn’t stick with the Bucks. “I’ve been hearing a quite a bit about the Lakers and Lopez,” one executive told Woelfel.
  • Executives who spoke to Woelfel view George Hill as a candidate to receive an offer in the neighborhood of $7-10MM if and when he’s released by the Bucks. That would make him a target for teams with the full mid-level exception available.
  • One NBA executive predicted a salary in the $13-15MM range for Nikola Mirotic, while another league official split the difference and projected $14MM, Woelfel writes. Mirotic is considered more likely to leave the Bucks than to re-sign, given the club’s cap limitations.
  • Veteran guard Xavier Munford, who has previously appeared in NBA games for Memphis and Milwaukee, will suit up for the Bucks’ Summer League squad in July, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN.com.

Mavs Interested In Patrick Beverley, Nikola Mirotic

Free-agent-to-be guard Patrick Beverley is “very much in play” for the Mavericks next week, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Sources tell Townsend that Beverley and the Mavs view one another as a “perfect fit.”

It remains to be seen how much of their projected cap room the Mavs will be willing to commit to Beverley, who figures to be in line for a sizable raise. The veteran point guard is also expected to draw interest from teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Sixers. Still, a source tells Townsend that Beverley and the Mavs plan to meet near the start of free agency.

Nikola Mirotic is another free agent receiving consideration from the Mavericks, a source tells Townsend, though the veteran power forward is further down on the team’s wish list than Beverley. Mirotic appears unlikely to re-sign with the Bucks, since they’ll also be trying to bring back Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez.

Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic has long been viewed as a potential target for Dallas, but Townsend hears that the Magic center will be seeking a starting salary in the $25MM range, which would likely price the Mavs out of the bidding. The Magic, Celtics, and Kings could be among the teams in play for Vucevic, Townsend adds, noting that Al Horford appears to be a more likely target for Dallas if the club decides to spend big on a center.

The Mavs project to have about $29-30MM in cap space this summer if they keep the cap holds for Kristaps Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber on their books. They could create a little extra flexibility by renouncing Finney-Smith and/or Kleber, but wouldn’t be able to carve out significantly more space without moving a player like Tim Hardaway or Courtney Lee.

Bucks Co-Owner: “Our Goal Is To Keep Everybody”

Several players who started or played major minutes off the bench for the Bucks this season are headed for free agency this summer, but co-owner Marc Lasry remains hopeful that the franchise can keep its core intact, as he tells Frank Isola of The Athletic.

“Our goal is to keep everybody,” Lasry said. “And we’re going to do everything in our power to keep the nucleus of our team.”

While the Bucks may not retain “everybody” on their roster who will be a free agent this offseason, there are three key players the team figures to prioritize. As Isola writes, Khris Middleton is expected to be offered a maximum-salary contract or something close to it, and the team would also like to bring back Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez. Nikola Mirotic and George Hill will also likely reach free agency.

Outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who led the Bucks in minutes during the Eastern Conference Finals, Middleton, Brogdon, and Lopez were the team’s three most-used players in that series vs. Toronto, so bringing them back will be Milwaukee’s No. 1 offseason goal. Brogdon’s modest cap hit (just under $2MM) and restricted status should help give the Bucks some cap flexibility as they weigh their options.

As for Antetokounmpo, he’s not up for a new deal quite yet, as his current pact runs through 2020/21. But he became eligible for a super-max extension by making an All-NBA team for a second straight year, and could sign that five-year extension during the 2020 offseason.

Like Lasry, Giannis recently said he’d like to see all the Bucks’ key free agents return. As long as the team proves it’s willing to invest financially to maintain a title contender, Milwaukee’s co-owner believes the team’s star will be interested in sticking around long-term.

As long as we keep doing well and Giannis believes we’re doing everything we can to win I feel good about our chances,” Lasry said. “… I believe he wants to be here. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Reinsdorf Defends Staff, Sees ‘Big Jump’ Next Season

Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf defended his top front office executives and head coach in a radio interview on Monday and said he expects the team to make big strides next season. Reinsdorf made those comments on 670 The Score’s Mully and Haugh (hat tip to NBC Sports Chicago’s Dan Santaromita).

Reinsdorf and the Bulls have taken a lot of heat for retaining GM Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson. Reinsdorf said the duo built “championship-caliber teams” before Derrick Rose suffered serious knee injuries. He also feels they have drafted well, naming Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah among their best picks.

He’s confident with a young core group and a high lottery pick, the Bulls are on the upswing. Heading into Tuesday’s lottery, Chicago holds the No. 4 spot.

“I feel like we have a great opportunity with this year’s draft to add another player and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think we can jump from where we were this year to a much better record,” Reinsdorf said. “I really think we’re set up. … I don’t claim that next year we’re going to be a championship caliber team, but I think you’re going to see the next step next year and a big jump.”

The Bulls could have up to $19MM in cap space this summer and Reinsdorf says they’ll use it to fortify the bench.

“We’re going to follow this plan through,” Reinsdorf said. “We have some cap space this year to spend on players. I do think we need to add to our depth and we’ll do that.”

Chicago’s decision to hand Jim Boylen a multiyear extension also caused grumbling among Bulls fans, considering the team’s 22-60 record. Reinsdorf was convinced by season’s end that the head coach had earned it.

“I think we knew towards the end of the season that Jim was the right person for us,” Reinsdorf said. “We had enough experience with him and so it was just a matter of getting the contract done.”

Malcolm Brogdon To Remain In Bench Role?

Despite the benefit of an extended break that he and his Bucks’ teammates will now enjoy while awaiting the winner of the Raptors/Sixers series, shooting guard Malcolm Brodgon appears likely to continue coming off the bench for the time being, writes Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Brogdon, who sat out for nearly two months with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot, made his return in Wednesday’s Game 5 win over the Celtics and performed well off the bench, scoring 10 points, dishing out four assists, and grabbing three rebounds in limited minutes.

In addition to Brogdon’s injury, absence, and resulting rust, the potential decision to keep him out of the staring lineup is also a result of the improved performance of a recently-inserted starter who played extremely well against Boston – forward Nikola Mirotic.

Per Velazquez, Budenholzer has been impressed (and perhaps pleasantly surprised) by Mirotic’s activity on defense, particularly the way he has been able to play with both Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo and therefore defend smaller wings like Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, or Gordon Hayward. As for whether the Bucks’ regular reserves prefer to play with Brogdon or Mirotic, they don’t seem to care.

“Whatever coach wants to do we’ll support,” reserve guard Pat Connaughton said. “If we have to re-knight Niko back into it we’ll re-knight him. If Malcolm’s still with us, we’re happy to have him. Regardless of who is a part of the bench mob, the bench mob’s goals and morals still stay the same.”