Nikola Mirotic

And-Ones: Mirotic, Head Coaches, Gasol, Littles

Veteran forward Nikola Mirotic shocked NBA observers and fans alike during the 2019 offseason when he opted to return to his home country of Spain as a free agent, signing with Barcelona despite reportedly having lucrative multiyear NBA offers on the table. Two years later, Mirotic said that he doesn’t really miss the NBA, with one notable exception.

“I would say I only miss playing against the best, those superstars like (Kevin) Durant, (James) Harden, Steph (Curry), Giannis (Antetokounmpo)… It’s something unforgettable,” Mirotic told Alex Molina of Eurohoops.net. “Playing against LeBron (James)… just amazing. Thinking that I also played with some of them like Anthony Davis, Giannis himself, Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose… An amazing experience. You always want to play against these guys, but apart from that, I don’t miss the NBA.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • NBA coaches will once again be allowed to wear casual attire on the sidelines rather than having to wear suits and ties, tweets Marc Stein of Substack. The league adjusted the dress code for head coaches during the 2020 bubble and has opted not to revert back to the old rules.
  • Although the expectation is that newly-released center Marc Gasol will sign a contract with Girona in Spain, a report from Spanish outlet CCMA.cat indicates that the 36-year-old hasn’t yet made a final decision on his future (hat tip to HoopsHype).
  • Gene Littles, who played in the ABA and later coached the Cavaliers, Hornets, and Nuggets, has died at age 78, according to a press release from his alma mater, High Point University. Littles’ head coaching stints were short-lived, as he led Cleveland, Charlotte, and Denver to a 44-111 (.284) record across parts of four seasons. However, he did win an ABA title as a player with the Kentucky Colonels in 1975.

Bobby Portis Talks 2020 Free Agency, Giannis, Mirotic, Bulls

Speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic about his experience as a free agent in 2020, Bucks forward Bobby Portis confirmed that the Knicks offered him a new contract after turning down his $15.75MM team option. However, he didn’t view New York as a “good situation” for him in 2019/20 and was unsure about whether the new leadership group (executives Leon Rose and William Wesley, along with head coach Tom Thibodeau) would change that.

“Obviously, Leon and (Wesley) and those guys were going to come in and try to change it around, but I just wanted to go to a winning culture and where I felt like I can fit in with guys,” Portis said. “I watched the bubble last season and I watched Milwaukee a lot, and I felt like it was a team I really fit on.

Joining the Bucks meant taking a substantial pay cut — Milwaukee had to fit in Portis using the bi-annual exception, meaning he earned just $3.6MM in 2020/21. However, the 26-year-old told Charania that he has saved money throughout his career and that a modest salary “wasn’t the biggest issue” for him, since he hopes to be playing in the NBA for another decade. After years of playing for lottery teams, Portis’ preference was to show he’s capable of contributing to a contender.

“I wanted to use this year as a get-back year for me just to get my name back,” Portis said. “An investment year. And so far, so good. It’s one of the best decisions of my career so far.”

Here are a few more of the most notable comments from Portis’ interview with Charania:

On how he and the Bucks began free agent talks last offseason:

“I actually hit Giannis (Antetokounmpo) up and told him I can come help the team and I can help everyone out. He went to the boss (front office) and told him come and get me.

“… I didn’t know Giannis much. So being able to reach out to him and him responding back was great. He was over in Greece. We were in two different time zones so I had to catch him when he was seven hours. I finally caught up with him, and everything worked out.”

On what changed his mindset and made him want to take a discount to play for a winning team:

“I think last year, the bubble did it for me. Years before, when my team didn’t make the playoffs, I was able to take my mind off of it. Going on a trip with my family or traveling or flying here and working out there. But last year when my team wasn’t invited to the bubble, I think that’s when I had enough of it because I was at home for f—ing nine months from March to November. No NBA games to play in, just straight working out. Watching the other teams that were invited in the bubble from home, that’s what really did it for me.”

On the 2017 incident when Portis punched Bulls teammate Nikola Mirotic in practice:

“Me and Mirotic, we always got into altercations. That wasn’t our first time. The guys in the front office knew that. That one was a little different. Some of the things that got misconstrued was that I sucker-punched him or whatever. The guys that were there at the time, they knew what happened. If it was that serious, they wouldn’t have offered me a contract extension.

“… What’s so crazy is me and (Mirotic) were balling together when he came back from injury. I haven’t talked to him ever since then, but no hard feelings at all my way. I was 22 at the time, and he was 26 or something. So we were both young guys. That’s a blur for me.”

On turning down a four-year contract extension (reportedly worth $40-50MM) from the Bulls prior to his fourth NBA season in 2018:

“If I knew then what I know now, I’d tell my younger self to take the extension. It’s life-changing money, money that can set my family up and generational wealth that can provide for generations to come. I wasn’t looking at it like that. I was looking at it like, ‘Oh, I think my worth is this and that.’ But really at the time, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Sometimes, it works for people. I would’ve told myself to take it. I think it was a great fit for me. I had a very good connection with the Bulls.”

And-Ones: Holmgren, Travel, Mirotic, Giddey

Seven-foot center Chet Holmgren, the top player in this year’s high school recruiting class and a candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, has committed to Gonzaga, as Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets.

While Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert, among other Zags, appear headed to the NBA, the addition of Holmgrem and the possible return of players like Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard should make Gonzaga a powerhouse again next season, Goodman notes.

When ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz completed their first 2022 mock draft in December, they wrote that Holmgren is “in a class of his own” and “checks every box” teams want in a top pick. The young center is considered an ideal big man, possessing the ability to block shots, knock down three-pointers, and even handle the ball. He’ll look to cement his place as next year’s first overall pick in his freshman year at Gonzaga.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA sent a memo to teams announcing that it will eliminate restrictions on international travel for fully vaccinated individuals, reports ESPN’s Givony. Scouts and executives have been prohibited from making international scouting trips all season long, but many will now have the opportunity to do so before the July 29 draft.
  • Speaking of international players, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype polled 15 NBA talent evaluators about the best players currently in leagues around the world. Former NBA forward Nikola Mirotic topped the list, with potential 2021 lottery pick Josh Giddey of the Adelaide 36ers coming in second.
  • Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report examines the impact the compressed schedule and the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols have had on players and coaches, touching on many of the same points that Baxter Holmes of ESPN did last week.

And-Ones: Mirotic, Schedule, VanVleet, More

Former NBA forward and current Barcelona star Nikola Mirotic announced on Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Mirotic said he feels fine and is following doctors’ instructions, but he won’t be playing in today’s game against Valencia Basket and his availability for Barcelona’s next several games will be jeopardized as well.

As noted in an ESPN story on Mirotic’s positive test, Barcelona head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and assistant Darius Maskoliunas both tested positive for the coronavirus earlier in October.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a shot at predicting what the NBA’s offseason calendar might look like, speculating that free agency will begin right near the end of November (after Thanksgiving) and that Martin Luther King Day (January 18) will be the league’s new target date for opening night of the 2020/21 regular season.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, a series of beat writers – including Eric Koreen, James Edwards III, and Mike Vorkunov – conducted a mock version of Fred VanVleet‘s free agency negotiations, concluding that the point guard’s floor this offseason is probably a four-year worth at least $80MM. In The Athletic’s exercise, the Raptors beat out the Pistons and Knicks to re-sign VanVleet.
  • Life isn’t always glamorous for American-born players who head overseas to continue their careers, according to CJ Moore of The Athletic, who spoke to a number of U.S. players that didn’t have great experiences playing in Europe or Asia.

Nikola Mirotic Extends Contract With Barcelona

After forgoing lucrative NBA offers a year ago to return to his home country of Spain, power forward Nikola Mirotic apparently has no regrets about that decision, having opted to extend his contract with Barcelona. The Spanish club announced today that Mirotic has agreed to an extension through the 2024/25 season.

Mirotic, who was expected to receive three- or four-year offers in the range of $45-50MM last July if he had remained stateside, finalized a deal with Barcelona just a day before the NBA’s 2019 free agent period began.

That contract was a three-year pact with a fourth-year option for the 2022/23 season, so even without his latest extension, Mirotic would’ve been under contract in Spain for multiple years to come. His new deal suggests he’s happy in Barcelona and has no intention of returning to the NBA anytime in the next few years — or perhaps ever.

“The club has trusted in me ever since I arrived,” Mirotic said in a statement. “Everyone knows it is never easy to come back from the U.S., but the club has given me everything. They wanted to bring me here, the fans have been good to me, the energy is great and I have often said how surprised I have seen to be so well received.”

After recording 12.3 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 319 games over the course of five NBA seasons in Chicago, New Orleans, and Milwaukee, Mirotic averaged 20.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 20 Spanish League games (26.9 MPG) in 2019/20, adding 19.0 PPG and 6.9 RPG in 28 EuroLeague contests (27.8 MPG). He earned Spanish League MVP honors for his performance, an award he previously won in 2013.

International Notes: Mirotic, Scola, M. Gasol, Rudez

Former NBA forward Nikola Mirotic has been named MVP of Liga ACB, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. It’s the second European MVP award for the 29-year-old, who is preparing for a semifinal playoff game tomorrow with his FC Barcelona team.

Mirotic made a surprising decision to return to Europe last summer after five NBA seasons. He was projected to land a contract somewhere in the range of $45MM over three years if he had remained in the NBA, and Johnson reports that he had an offer in place from the Jazz. Mirotic spent most of his career with the Bulls, and split last season between the Pelicans and Bucks.

“You can see it in my face, in my smile. It was a good surprise, it brightened my day,” he said in an interview with Eurohoops.net about winning the award. “The MVP award for me means a collective work of the team. This award goes to all my teammates who have helped me to be better every day. Each game has helped me to feel good. And of course to the coaching staff who have managed to put me in the best position that I feel effective. And also for all those who support us, the fans.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Luis Scola, who left Olympia Milano earlier this month, will remain in Italy and sign with Varese, a source tells Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. The 40-year-old forward hopes to play one more season before ending his career with the Olympics next summer.
  • Raptors center Marc Gasol announced Friday that the club he owns in Spain, Girona Basket, will create the country’s first 3×3 professional team, according to Michael Houston of insidethegame.biz. Growing in popularity around the world, 3×3 basketball will make its Olympics debut next year in Tokyo.
  • Former Pacers, Timberwolves and Magic forward Damjan Rudez signed a two-year deal with Donar in the Netherlands, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

International Notes: Beaubois, Spain, Nurse, James

Anadolu Efes of Turkey and former NBA guard Rodrigue Beaubois have reached a contract extension agreement until 2022, Sportando’s Dario Skerletic relays via Israeli reporter Roi Cohen. Beaubois played four seasons for Dallas from 2009-13. This season, the French guard averaged 11.1 PPG over 43 games.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Spain’s ACB league has been suspended indefinitely, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Play was already suspended until April 24th due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The league’s teams will decide how to proceed n the upcoming weeks.
  • Raptors coach Nick Nurse remains fully committed to coaching Team Canada in Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Nurse is “really excited” about it and hopes the Olympics, rescheduled for next summer, can go forward as planned.
  • A trio of former NBA players heads the list of the best players in Europe, according to Jeff Greer of The Athletic. A survey of 21 coaches and players overseas choose former Phoenix and New Orleans guard Mike James as the top player in Europe this season in a close votes. Guard Shane Larkin and forward Nikola Mirotic tied for the second-most votes. Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija, a likely top-10 pick in this year’s draft, is considered the top international NBA prospect.

International Notes: Mirotic, Bolomboy, Douglas, N’Doye

Nikola Mirotic was said to be in line for at least one contract offer in the three-year, $45MM range if he had remained in the NBA last summer, but he opted instead to return to the country where he began his professional career, signing with Barcelona. While he may not be earning quite as lucrative a salary in Spain, the veteran forward is enjoying a successful season so far.

The EuroLeague announced this week that Mirotic has been named the league’s MVP for the month of February, the equivalent of the NBA’s Player of the Month award. It’s the second time this season that Mirotic has earned the honor — he knocked down a pair of game-winning shots in February and averaged 21.0 PPG for the month. His Barcelona squad is now 20-6, good for third in the EuroLeague standings.

Here are more notes from around the international basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Joel Bolomboy has signed a two-year contract extension with Russia’s CSKA Moscow, the club announced this week in a press release. Bolomboy, a former Weber State standout who appeared in 18 NBA games between 2016-18 for Utah and Milwaukee, is now under contract with the EuroLeague club through the 2021/22 season.
  • Veteran guard Toney Douglas, who played 394 regular season NBA games from 2010-17, has signed with Italian team Pallacanestro Varese for the remainder of the season, the club announced in a press release (hat tip to Sportando). Douglas has also played in Turkey and Spain since last suiting up for an NBA team.
  • After testing the draft waters a year ago, French prospect Abdoulaye N’Doye wasn’t sure he’d be drafted and decided to try to improve his stock leading up to his final year of eligibility. So far, N’Doye’s plan to bet on himself has been a success, according to Jeff Greer of The Athletic, who explores how the young guard’s impressive season for Cholet Basket has improved his standing on big boards for 2020.

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.