The Chicago Bulls are supposed to be bad. And at the start, they were very bad, starting a franchise worse 3-20 to begin the year. Since power forward Nikola Mirotic came back, the Bulls have won 14 out of there last 22 games.
Since he came back from facial fractures, Mirotic is averaging 17.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game despite only playing 25 minutes a game off the bench. He is shooting a blistering 45.7 percent from the 3-point line and 49 percent overall from the field. Mirotic has added a much needed scoring boost off the bench to a unit that was at the bottom of the league.
For all the analytics people out there, his PER is 23.83. As a reference, the league average is 15.0. Mirotic is currently 15th in league in PER, higher than stars such as Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Andre Drummond. Now this isn’t to say he is better than those players, but it does show how valuable he has been when he has been on the court this season.
Since he has delayed the Bulls tank, this is the perfect opportunity to trade him. This is arguably the best he has played in his career, and his defense has also improved to the point where he is not a turnstile like in years past. He does have a no-trade clause because of the one-year Bird rights contract he signed this past offseason. Fortunately, good news has come out about this little problem.
“Mirotic and his representatives have made it known to the front office that he’d waive his no-trade clause if it meant being dealt to a playoff contender” – Chicago Sun-Times
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three trade scenarios involving Nikola Mirotic.
Chicago Bulls receive: Alec Burks, Jonas Jerebko, Dante Exum
Utah Jazz receive: Nikola Mirotic, Jerian Grant
This one would net the Bulls a few promising young players without jeopardizing cap space for years to come. Former fifth overall pick Dante Exum hasn’t lived up to expectations so far in his career. After suffering another injury in training camp when he hurt his shoulder, its time for a change of scenery.
Alec Burks would match salaries with Mirotic and provides great wing depth as he is big enough to play shooting guard or small forward. He is under contract for a little over $10 million for the rest of this year and next.
Jonas Jerebko would be a throw-in for the deal and can shoot well from three as a backup power forward. The Bulls would also trade Jerian Grant because they would be getting a point guard in return.
Chicago Bulls receive: Jon Leuer, Detroit Pistons 2018 first-round pick
Detroit Pistons receive: Nikola Mirotic
This is the trade that might make the most sense for both sides. It would also help the Bulls immensely with draft position as the Detroit Pistons are currently tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls would have to take on Jon Leuer’s mammoth contract for the next two and a half years, but that is the price they will pay to get a first-round pick in this year’s stacked draft. This trade is all about receiving a draft pick, and helps them out in the future.
Chicago Bulls receive: Mirza Teletovic, Rashad Vaughn, 2019 Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick
Milwaukee Bucks receive: Nikola Mirotic, 2019 Chicago Bulls second-round pick
In this trade scenario, the Bulls don’t get a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but they do get a first-round pick in 2019, which is the next best thing.
They also would receive promising young shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, who could play a prominent role of the bench. Mirza Teletovic would be included to offset salary, and his 3-point shooting would help with the loss of Mirotic.
In any case, I believe that the Chicago Bulls should trade Mirotic while his value is at his highest. By trading Mirotic and getting the tank commander Cam Payne back from injury, it will help the Bulls get in better draft position to possibly draft Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Mohamed Bamba or Trae Young.
On a side note, the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic fight is the best thing to happen to the Chicago Bulls since Derrick Rose won MVP in 2011. It immediately cleared the way for rookie Lauri Markkanen to start at power forward, and he has taken that opportunity and ran with it.
Featured photo: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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