LAS VEGAS -- Nikola Mirotic is finally headed to play for the Chicago Bulls. The European star tweeted Sunday that he was coming to the NBA.
- Nikola Mirotic (@nikolamirotic12) July 13, 2014
Mirotic was acquired by the Bulls in a draft-day deal in 2011 from the Houston Rockets. Since it has been three years since he was drafted, he is no longer bound to a rookie scale contract. Yahoo! Sports reported that the Mirotic agreement was for $17-plus million over three years.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau declined comment, but the front office has been hoping to bring over Mirotic for several years. Thibodeau acknowledged on Saturday that it looked like Mirotic was headed to Chicago.
"[Executive vice president of basketball operations] John [Paxson] and [general manager] Gar [Forman] have been in contact with him for a long time because we have his draft rights," Thibodeau said before the Bulls' first summer league game on Saturday night. "Hopefully, something will be worked out. At some point, he will hopefully come, then we'll see where he is."
Mirotic's deal capped a full weekend for the Bulls. On Sunday they came to terms with veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich on a new deal, according to a league source. As he did in his previous two-year deal with the Bulls, Hinrich left money on the table to stay in Chicago, according to the source. On Saturday, the Bulls came to terms with former All-Star Pau Gasol. Gasol tweeted he was headed to Chicago, a move the organization hopes will help in the present and future. Aside from Gasol's presence on the floor, the hope within the organization is that Gasol will serve as a mentor to Mirotic as the young forward makes the transition from Real Madrid. Mirotic secured a buyout with Real Madrid over the July 4th weekend.
It is unclear how much Mirotic will play to start the season, but the front office has always been high on his ability to space the floor and knock down shots from the perimeter as a "stretch four."
With these moves in place, the Bulls roster appears to be fairly set heading into the regular season. The final year of Carlos Boozer's deal will likely be officially amnestied by the July 16 deadline. The Bulls still need to add another backup point guard, and possibly another big man, but those moves will take more time as the free agency market empties out.
As it pertains to Hinrich, both he and the organization always seemed confident a deal would get done. Hinrich averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 assists last season for the Bulls.
"I grew up a Bull in this league," Hinrich said on April 30. "I will always think of myself as a Chicago Bull no matter what happens. Just moving forward, I have a great relationship with a lot of my teammates here who are coming back. The organization -- there's definitely a lot of history there."
Hinrich's new deal, earlier reported by NBA.com, combined with the deals for Gasol and Mirotic, likely mean that popular veteran D.J. Augustin won't be back with the Bulls and will go to a team with more cap space.