The latest on the Bulls-Pelicans trade talks for Nikola Mirotic

SHARE The latest on the Bulls-Pelicans trade talks for Nikola Mirotic

Kris Dunn was scheduled to head west with the rest of his teammates Tuesday, but lingering concussion symptoms put an end to those travel plans.

After practice, Lauri Markkanen also was pulled from the start of the three-city trip for “personal reasons.’’


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Both, however, could meet up with the team at some point during the next six days.

The big surprise was that Nikola Mirotic actually made it on the plane to Portland, Oregon.

The Sun-Times confirmed that the Bulls and Pelicans were close to finalizing a deal that would send Mirotic to New Orleans for a draft pick, Omer Asik’s ugly contract and possibly another player, but the deal fell apart, which doesn’t mean the plug has been pulled entirely.

According to multiple sources, Mirotic and his representatives didn’t like the idea of walking away from a possible guaranteed $12.5 million next season if they give up his no-trade clause.

If the Bulls pick up the team option for next season, the deal could happen, but they would have to persuade the Pelicans to keep Mirotic through the 2018-19 season, a financial commitment the Pelicans don’t seem willing to make.

The potential deal would reunite Mirotic with former Bulls teammate Rajon Rondo.

“[Rondo] is the best teammate I ever had,’’ Mirotic said last week. ‘‘He was one of those guys that every time he talked, it didn’t matter if he had a good day or bad day, he was always there.

“I’ve had some teammates or people that just showed up when something good was happening, not bad. He understood sticking together and getting guys on the same page. I really love him for who he is. When [the Bulls] cut him [last summer], I was real disappointed. . . . But this is the NBA, and we’re all moving on.’’

Mirotic’s seat on the plane might not be the only empty one Feb. 6, when the Bulls return to Chicago.

With the trade deadline on Feb. 8, the Bulls have more than a few players who could be dealt:

Robin Lopez — Two more years left on his contract (makes $14.3 million next season) — 29 years old — 12.7 points per game — .532 field-goal percentage.

Lopez is a slightly above-average center statistically who has a high basketball IQ and brings intensity to the court.

He likely would have to be packaged with Jerian Grant or maybe Justin Holiday, but for teams in need of a big man (Cavaliers) or that have lost a big man to injury (Pelicans), he’s a quick fix in the middle.

Best fit: Cleveland, New Orleans, Portland, Indiana.

Justin Holiday — Two more years left on his contract (makes $4.5 million next season) — 28 years old — 13.3 points per game.

Like Lopez, Holiday would have to go in a package. He’s a perfect rotation player for a playoff team and is a great locker-room presence.

He’s having a career year and was the No. 1 option early in the season. The Bulls got off to a 3-20 start, so being a team’s No. 1 option obviously is not his calling.

That doesn’t mean Holiday isn’t a valuable piece. Packaged with Lopez or Grant, maybe even in a Mirotic trade, there are plenty of teams that could use his talents.

Best fit: Minnesota, Milwaukee, Washington.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.


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