Other than the draft day trade of Jimmy Butler, Chicago’s offseason hasn’t been very interesting. Dwyane Wade opted into his contract, the team traded up for former Arizona sharp-shooter Lauri Markkanen, and signed athletic swing-man Justin Holiday. Though Chicago has been busy, there are still questions as to when they will sign their restricted free agents and for how much. The Bulls’ front office have been adamant about bringing back their inconsistent stretch-forward, Nikola Mirotic, but the terms of his respective deal have yet to be decided upon.
Perhaps it was the cap boom from the year prior, but teams aren’t dishing out as many egregious, long-term deals this summer. For instance, the first free agency move in the summer of 2016 was Timofey Mozgov to the Lakers. Los Angeles gave $64 million through four years to a guy who lost his starting spot on a championship team. Just one year into his deal, the Lakers had to give up D’Angelo Russell to get rid of Mozgov.
The short-term, more cap-friendly deals of this year serves as a drastic change from last year, and many east teams like the Bulls have regressed over the course of free agency.
“Niko is a restricted free agent we intend to bring back,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said last month.
He went on to say, “In his three years here, he’s been statistically much better after the All-Star break. We look at that and try to analyze that.”
Since becoming a member of the Bulls in 2014, Mirotic’s career has been mostly marked by ill-advised pump fakes and his tendency to be an awfully streaky shooter. He has averaged 10.8 points and 35 percent 3-point shooting, dramatically falling short of the expectations set before he was welcomed into the NBA.
At 26 years old, Mirotic will most likely maintain his playing style for the remainder of his career. Not to say that his percentages can’t improve, but it’s difficult to imagine a Mirotic that doesn’t pass up threes for worse shots, or decides to have a 20-point, 10-rebound game once a month.
Unlike Mirotic, fellow restricted free agent Cristiano Felicio agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Bulls this summer. While no one knows what’s taking the Mirotic-Bulls talks so long, it’s all but guaranteed that Chicago would love to have Niko at the right price.
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