PORTLAND – Nikola Mirotic still isn’t going anywhere as of Wednesday afternoon, and that also means he won’t be playing for the Bulls for the time being, either.
VP of basketball operations John Paxson announced that Mirotic will be shut down while the team continues to negotiate a deal for the stretch-four, making sure that he isn’t hurt leading into the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
It was Tuesday afternoon that the Sun-Times confirmed a deal that would have sent Mirotic to the Pelicans for a first-round draft pick, as well as taking on the remainder of Omer Asik’s contract.
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According to sources, the deal never happened because Mirotic and his representation didn’t like the idea of walking away from a possible guaranteed $12.5 million next season, which would have been the case if they would have waived the no-trade clause and accepted the deal.
The Bulls inevitably have final veto power over where Mirotic can be traded, but in order to grab that they would have to pick up the team option for next season, meaning his new team would be on the hook for next season’s salary, as well.
New Orleans didn’t want to make that commitment to the Mirotic experience, especially with their payroll currently in bad shape, and still hopeful that they can max out soon-to-be free agent DeMarcus Cousins with an offseason offer.
While the talks between the two teams have cooled, a source said it’s not completely dead just yet. Call it on life support.
The good news for the Bulls is there remains interest around the league in adding Mirotic, and the number of teams may have grown with the news that Cleveland has lost Kevin Love to a broken hand for possibly two months.