The hype that Bulls F Nikola Mirotic brought entering his first season in Chicago no longer exists.
As the Bulls continue to fight for a playoff spot, the former 1st round pick has scored 28 points twice in his last three games. From being a DNP-CD and even being inactive one game this season, Mirotic has seen all the ups and particularly the downs. From success to failure, Mirotic is fighting for the Bulls to make the playoffs, and to earn a big paycheck this offseason.
In his rookie season, Mirotic finished second in the rookie of the year voting behind Andrew Wiggins. Since then, his flaws have overtaken the once so called rising star a few years ago.
Mirotic has many strong parts to his game. His size allows him to play the power forward position and has the ability to shoot from long range. Another part of Niko’s game that I like is when he puts the ball on the floor, he can create opportunities to score. Mirotic has been very productive at times in Hoiberg’s offense, particularly in March the past two seasons, but he’s had his lows in the system as well. While he is not known as a great passer, he can drive to the hoop and finish. For his weaknesses, his defense is not very good. His feet are not quick and is not that athletic. He does not matchup well against quicker bigs and guards eat him up. Furthermore, his inconsistency continues to dwindle his value going forward.
The Bulls should not overpay for Mirotic this offseason. Plenty of teams will have interest in the three-year NBA veteran. The Bulls were shopping his before the NBA trade deadline, so there is a feeling to move on. How I see it, His latest success is too late to save his spot on the Bulls roster next season. Overall, he has not shown he can be reliable on the defensive end and a consistent scorer.
Based on hoopshype.com, the Bulls qualifying offer to Mirotic next season would be $7,228,063 million dollars. With the NBA cap continuing to rise again next season, Mirotic is going to want more money. At 26 years-old, he is in the prime of his career and now a chance to get paid big money coming off his rookie contract.
The Bulls are going to have a sufficient amount of cap room going into free agency in the 2017 offseason, even more when the Bulls part ways with Rajon Rondo. And if Dwyane Wade declines his player option of $23.8M, the Bulls would find themselves with a lot of money to give away.
So there will be room for Mirotic you say? Yes, there would be but re-signing him would not be a good move.
The Bulls are very high on big man Cristiano Felicio. He will be a free agent after this season, but I expect Gar Forman to re-sign him. It would only be fitting because Forman did list him as part of the core after last year’s trade deadline. Bobby Portis will be on the Bulls next season and it’s important that he plays a lot to see what he really is and if he’s worth the team option in 2018-2019. Robin Lopez has two years left on his deal and has played pretty well for the Bulls. A consistent center who can average 10 points and 10 rebounds and has a good mid-range game.
One of the Bulls biggest needs is a PF/C but Mirotic does not fit their need. With his shooting capabilities, couldn’t he play SF then? No. If the Bulls are truly all about developing young talent, Paul Ziper and Denzel Valentine should play that role next season.
Mirotic has strong parts to his game but over the course of his Bulls career as the bad outweighs the good. It would be a mistake to bring him back and overpaying him would be even worse. The Bulls need to know what is on the rest of their roster (Portis, Zipser, Valentine). They know what Mirotic is and he should not be apart of their future.
Mirotic once took Chicago by storm with his dominate rookie season. If “Three-Kola” returns next season, it’s going to be a dreadful one.