Nikola Mirotic

International Notes: Mirotic, Wall, Galloway, McCaw, More

Former NBA forward Nikola Mirotic has signed with Olimpia Milano in Italy, the team announced in a press release. The new contract for the 2021/22 EuroLeague MVP will run through 2026.

“I am happy to become part of this great family that is Olimpia Milano and to be able to contribute to making this team and this prestigious company more and more competitive,” Mirotic said. “… I am also very happy to be back playing for coach (Ettore) Messina, whom I met when I was starting out. I’m sure next season will be a fun one and our fans will be proud of us.”

Mirotic played five NBA seasons with the Bulls, Pelicans and Bucks before returning to Europe in 2019. The contract he signed with Barcelona was the largest in the EuroLeague at the time, but it was terminated last month with two years remaining.

After his original negotiations with Milano collapsed, Mirotic worked out a three-year agreement with KK Partizan in Serbia. However, he decided not to sign the contract, citing unspecified “threats and insults.” The franchise claimed it could guarantee his safety and was skeptical about his stated reasons for backing out of the deal.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • John Wall is disputing a report that surfaced on Wednesday that he’s also talking to Olimpia Milano, tweeting, “Where Do Y’all Get Ur Info from? False News!!” Wall played 34 games for the Clippers last season before being traded and waived in February. He held a private workout for several teams last month in Las Vegas.
  • Langston Galloway has signed with Pallacanestro Reggiana in Italy, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews (Twitter link). The eight-year NBA veteran is part of the Select Team that’s scrimmaging against Team USA’s World Cup squad. He played for College Park in the G League last season.
  • Patrick McCaw has joined Filou Oostende in Belgium, the team announced. He spent last season with the G League champion Delaware Blue Coats after winning three NBA titles with Golden State and Toronto.
  • Former NBA guard Semaj Christon has signed with Germani Brescia in Italy, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Christon participated in a free agent mini-camp with the Timberwolves in June.
  • Former Pistons shooting guard Deividas Sirvydis has a new contract with Lietkabelis Panevezys in Lithuania, according to Urbonas.
  • G League forward Robert Woodard II has joined ADA Blois Basket, the team tweeted. The 40th pick in the 2020 draft signed with the Thunder last October and spent the season in the G League.

International Notes: Mirotic, J. Young, Kuzminskas, Poythress

Former NBA forward Nikola Mirotic was reportedly set to join Italian club Olimpia Milano last month after spending the past four seasons with FC Barcelona. The Spanish side recently officially terminated Mirotic’s contract, which still had two guaranteed years remaining.

After his agreement with Milano fell through, Mirotic reached a three-year deal with Serbia’s KK Partizan, but the 32-year-old announced on Instagram that he decided not to sign his new contract. He cited unspecified “threats and insults” after the news broke, as relays. The Montenegrin also said he would not compete for any other team in Serbia, even though it’s a country he loves.

Partizan issued its own statement on the matter, per BasketNews, saying the team assured Mirotic that he and his family would be safe, including the president of Serbia personally reaching out to the veteran. The club also expressed skepticism at Mirotic’s reasoning for backing out of the agreement.

Mirotic has been the highest-paid player in Europe since he left the NBA in 2019, winning EuroLeague MVP in 2021/22. The former first-round pick averaged 12.3 PPG and 5.9 RPG on .423/.359/.808 shooting across 319 games with the Bulls, Pelicans and Bucks from 2014-19.

Here are few more notes from across the pond:

  • Another former first-round pick, James Young, has signed a contract with Italy’s Universo Treviso Basket, according to Sportando. Young appeared in 95 NBA games over four seasons with Boston and Philadelphia, with his last campaign coming in 2017/18. He has played in Israel and Greece over the past three seasons. The swingman was selected 17th overall in 2014 and is still just 27 years old.
  • Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas is finalizing a deal with AEK Athens, sources tell Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews (Twitter link). The 33-year-old has spent 13 seasons in Europe, having spent ’22/23 with Turkish club Karsiyaka Basket. He played 69 games for New York from 2016-17.
  • Free agent big man Alex Poythress, who played 52 games with the Sixers, Pacers and Hawks from 2016-19, is finalizing a contract with Olimpia Milano, according to Urbonas of BasketNews. Moses Barda of One first reported the Italian club’s interest in Poythress (via Twitter). The 29-year-old has played for teams in Turkey, Russia and Israel since leaving the NBA, most recently suiting up for Maccabi Tel Aviv last season.

International Notes: Mirotic, P. Motiejunas, Guy, Mannion

Longtime NBA power forward Nikola Mirotic, who has been back overseas since 2019, will remain in Europe for the immediate future. According to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia (Twitter link), the 6’10” big man has agreed to terms on a deal with Italian club Olimpia Milano after having spent the past four seasons as the best-compensated player in Europe with FC Barcelona.

According to Sportando, Mirotic has two years remaining on his deal with Barcelona. However, the Spanish team reportedly informed the forward that it intends to terminate that contract, as relays.

Selected in the 2011 draft with the No. 23 pick, Mirotic logged major rotation minutes on the Bulls, Pelicans and Bucks from 2014-19. Instead of springing for a lucrative new contract in free agency that summer, he opted for a return to international play, where he had begun his career with Real Madrid in 2008.

Here’s more news and notes from around the basketball world:

  • The EuroLeague, widely considered to be the second-most competitive basketball organization in the world, has officially named its new CEO: Paulius Motiejunas. According to, EuroLeague shareholders unanimously voted for Motiejunas, who has served as the president and owner of EuroLeague club Zalgiris Kaunas for a decade.
  • After just one season with Spain’s Joventut Badalona, former NBA guard Kyle Guy will find a new home next season, per Eurohoops. Guy was selected out of Virginia with the No. 55 pick in 2019, and logged time with the Kings, Cavaliers, and Heat — plus their respective NBAGL affiliates — from 2019-22. He averaged 11.5 PPG on a .408/.345/.802 slash line across 34 contests in Liga ACB play.
  • Spanish team Saski Baskonia is considering signing ex-Warriors point guard Nico Mannion, currently with Virtus Bologna, writes Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. The 22-year-old out of Arizona appeared in just 30 NBA games with Golden State during the 2020/21 season, averaging 4.1 PPG, 2.3 APG nd 1.5 RPG in 12.1 MPG. Mannion, who would be a Warriors restricted free agent if he were to attempt a return to the NBA, averaged 9.9 PPG and 3.1 APG in the LBA with Virtus Bologna this past season.

And-Ones: Trade Market, Front Offices, Coaches, EuroLeague, More

Tonight’s NBA draft lottery is highly anticipated due to the hype surrounding projected No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. However, some league executives are more focused on the trade implications for the team that lands the top selection, noting that quality centers could be dealt to free up playing time and address other parts of the roster.

I’m as interested in what comes after the lottery as the lottery itself,” one general manager told Sean Deveney of “This could be a tidal wave after it gets decided.”

For example, if the Pistons land the top pick — which they have a 14% chance to do — an Eastern Conference executive speculated that Detroit could get an impressive return for Jalen Duren, who was recently named to the All-Rookie Second Team. However, it’s worth noting that the Pistons have shown no desire to move Duren to this point after trading for him during last June’s draft.

They probably could get a top-10 pick for him this year,” the executive said. “He has a lot of Robert Williams qualities, and he is like Williams because it might take a little time to polish. You can’t really play him and Wemby together, so he’d have to go. It would be crazy to see the market on him, he is still mostly upside.”

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

  • Twenty-six clubs have been eliminated from title contention, but that doesn’t mean anyone is taking time off. In an interesting article for The Athletic, former league executives Seth Partnow and John Hollinger discuss the busiest time of the year for NBA front offices — the stretch that starts with the draft combine, which is currently ongoing, and runs through the first couple weeks of free agency.
  • Three of the past four championship-winning coaches are no longer with their former teams. The recent spate of dismissals — including Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams and Doc Rivers — has left a negative imprint on some of the longest-tenured coaches, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. “It’s disturbing,” said Erik Spoelstra, who has been the Heat’s head coach since 2008. “Doc’s a Hall of Famer. … There’s only so many teams that can advance. It’s just a really hard thing to do. Yeah, it’s been a tough couple weeks, hearing the news of just some really surprising firings.”
  • The All-EuroLeague First and Second Teams were recently announced (Twitter links), and several former NBA players made the cut. The First Team features Walter Tavares, Mathias Lessort, Lorenzo Brown, Sasha Vezenkov and Dzanan Musa, while Darius Thompson, Kevin Punter, Nikola Mirotic, Wade Baldwin and Mike James comprise the Second Team. A recent rumor indicated that Vezenkov, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Kings, is seriously mulling the possibility of coming stateside and making his debut next season.
  • Leonard Solms at profiles Samkelo Cele, who is hoping to become the second South African-born player to reach the NBA (the first was Steve Nash). Cele is currently competing in the Basketball Africa League.

And-Ones: Mirotic, In-Season Tourney, Transition Take Fouls

Nikola Mirotic finished only fourth in Spanish League MVP voting this season, but he has been named the Most Valuable Player for the EuroLeague, per an official release.

The former NBA forward had a terrific year for FC Barcelona, averaging 16.6 PPG and 5.1 RPG with a shooting line of .566/.455/.875 in just 24.2 MPG (36 games) in EuroLeague play. Mirotic ranked second in the league in points per game, behind only Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic, and was among the league leaders in total three-pointers made.

Mirotic, who appeared in 319 NBA games from 2014-19, has been back in Europe for the last three seasons after making the surprising decision to turn down lucrative NBA offers at age 28. His Barcelona squad is set to face Real Madrid at the EuroLeague Final Four on Thursday.

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

  • The NBA continues to discuss a possible in-season tournament and could implement it as soon as the 2023/24 season, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The league has been encouraged by the success of the play-in tournament and is ramping up its planning on a mid-season tourney, Charania adds.
  • According to Charania (Twitter links), the NBA is strongly considering tweaking the rules on take fouls in transition by awarding the offensive team a free throw and the ball. The proposal, which will be voted on in July at the Board of Governors meeting, had “widespread support” at this week’s GM meeting, per Charania.
  • During an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio, commissioner Adam Silver floated the idea of requiring a minimum number of games played for end-of-season award eligibility, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. There’s no indication the NBA is seriously considering implementing such a rule, but the fact that Silver even mentioned it is interesting.
  • FIBA continues not to allow the national teams from Russia and Belarus to participate in international competitions, announcing in a press release that the countries have been withdrawn from a series of upcoming events, including the 2023 World Cup qualifiers. FIBA first banned the two countries from international play on March 1 following their invasion of Ukraine, and shows no signs of reversing the decision.

And-Ones: Beasley, Delaney, Bolmaro, Duarte, EuroLeague, Ticket Prices

Michael Beasley has officially committed to play in the BIG3 league with 3’s Company this summer, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. ESPN’s Marc J. Spears recently reported Beasley was expected to play in the league. The former No. 2 pick, who last played in the NBA with the Lakers during the 2018/19 season, has hired agent Andre Buck and will continue pursuing an NBA comeback. 

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA player Malcolm Delaney will miss the remainder of Olimpio Milano’s season due to an abdominal injury, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Delaney won’t return to Milan next season. “Two special years, in which I played in two of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of, but with a lot of bad luck,” Delaney said. “I enjoyed my experience in Milan, on and off the court.”
  • Timberwolves rookie Leandro Bolmaro and Pacers rookie Chris Duarte will be among the coaches at the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Americas camp next week, according to an NBA press release. The camp will be held from Monday to Thursday in San Luis Potosí, Mexico and will bring together the top high-school age boys and girls from Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean.
  • This year’s EuroLeague First Team selections have a distinct NBA flavor. NBA veterans Mike James, Shane Larkin and Nikola Mirotic were all selected to the First Team along with Walter Tavares and Sasha Vezenkov, tweets.
  • Ticket prices around the NBA continue to rise as attendance drops, Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post report. According to the Post, fans are now paying an average of $109 per ticket, an 18.6% increase since 2018/19. However, the number of paid fans at arenas has dropped 7.1% to 13,603 per game. Those numbers could impact the league’s negotiations with its broadcast partners.

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 “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 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.