Nikola Mirotic is ruining the Chicago Bulls’ tank job, and they appear to know it.
Since making his debut after suffering facial fractures and a concussion during a dustup with teammate Bobby Portis, the 26-year-old forward is averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds on 50.4 percent shooting, including a 47.5 percent clip from downtown. The Bulls are 9-2 over this 11-game stretch and outscoring opponents by a ridiculous 8.7 points per 100 possessions whenever Mirotic is on the floor.
Other stellar performances have coincided with their uptick in victories—specifically those from Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, David Nwaba, Lauri Markkanen and even Bobby Portis. But Mirotic is at the center of it all, playing the best basketball of his career for a rebuilding squad whose window no longer aligns with his own.
Fear not, though, Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III fans: It doesn’t appear the Bulls will stand for this much longer.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Joe Cowley, both Mirotic and the Bulls remain open to parting ways once his trade restriction lifts in January:
But while most members of the organization are no longer publicly talking about the dislike between Mirotic and Portis, that doesn’t mean it won’t yet impact the roster. According to a Bulls source, Mirotic and his representatives have still made it known to the front office that he’d waive his no-trade clause if it meant being dealt to a playoff contender when he’s eligible to be moved in mid-January.
Because of how well Mirotic has been playing since his return
Dec. 8, the Bulls are now taking that option more seriously.
Unless the Bulls somehow play themselves into postseason contention over the next two weeks, we should expect Mirotic to be moved elsewhere. While he’s not exactly old, he turns 27 in February. That doesn’t perfectly complement the team’s rebuilding timeline—particularly when he’ll be up for a new contract in 2019.
Subject to a team option in 2018-19, Mirotic should be able to net the Bulls a first-round pick as part of any trade. And if he’s still playing like this by the middle of January, ahead of the Feb. 8 deadline, they may not even need to accept a longer contract in return to nab that selection.