By: Thomas Gibbons
It has become very clear that the Bulls are motivated to trade Nikola Mirotic.
After failing to reach a long term-deal this past offseason, Mirotic and the Bulls agreed to a two-year contract worth $26 million with the second year being a team option. With this team option, Mirotic has the ability to veto trades. But in recent reports, Mirotic is willing to part ways with the Bulls and would like to join a contender.
Since his return on December 8th in Charlotte, Mirotic is averaging a astounding 17.4 points per game to go along with 7.0 rebounds per game. There was a stretch in mid-December where the forward scored 15 or more points in seven straight games. He elevated his game, not just settling for the outside shot but taking it to the rim or in the post. It was a different side of Mirotic we have not seen…ever. “It’s the second coming of Dirk,” someone told me. Not quite but for a string of games, it looked like it.
With all his success, the buzz was not Mirotic is playing to stay with the Bulls long-term, it was all about his trade value steadily rising. If the Bulls are truly committed to rebuilding, they have to trade away veterans players who can in return gives the Bulls picks and players to build around. Mirotic had his chance to prove his worth in the past and the two sides did not agree on a contract until the day before training camp. The Bulls are planning to move on from Mirotic and for good reason.
So let’s take a look at the teams interested and what the Bulls can get in return.
Detroit Pistons receive: F Nikola Mirotic
Chicago Bulls receive: 2018 1st round pick, SF Stanley Johnson.
The Pistons are currently 7th in the Eastern Conference and will probably squeeze into the playoffs. Behind Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley, the Pistons have a solid startling lineup but lack depth. Mirotic could be the answer to their problems and could even be inserted into the starting lineup. Anthony Tolliver and Eric Moreland are not getting it done off the bench and Mirotic could be that spark that helps jump start their second unit.
For the Bulls, they are focused on getting a first round pick in return. Also, they want to acquire younger players. Stanley Johnson jumps out at you when you think of the Detroit Pistons.
Johnson, 8th overall pick in the 2015 draft, is just averaging 7.5 points per game in his young career. An explosive player who is a drive first forward but has shown little promise in his career thus far. Still only 21, Johnson looks to be in need of a fresh start because Detroit does not look like the place for him.
I think this would be a great trade for both sides. The Pistons will have to dump some salary to acquire Mirotic, whether it’s to the Bulls or someone else, but this is a reasonable trade. The Pistons can continue their push for the playoffs and the Bulls can continue to stockpile young talent.
Utah Jazz receive: F Nikola Mirotic
Chicago Bulls receive: 2018 1st round pick, G Rodney Hood
As reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, the Jazz have shown interest in Mirotic. Utah would be a great spot for Mirotic due to Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s work with getting the most offensive potential out of his players.
What would the Jazz be willing to give up? Rodney Hood is one player that would be a great addition to the Bulls roster. Hood and the Jazz failed to reach a contract extension before the deadline in October. He will be a restricted free agent this summer which would be in the Bulls favor if he was acquired.
Hood, 25, is entering his fourth season in the NBA out of Duke. His numbers may not be consistent but he is a good shooter and can create his own shot. The former Blue Devil is shooting 39% from three this season.
Denzel Valentine and Justin Holiday have seen their share of inconsistencies this season. Hood would be a big boost to this roster with his outside shooting ability. If Fred Hoiberg were to have Hood and Zach LaVine on the wings, he, along with the fans, would be pretty happy.
These two possible trade scenarios give the Jazz and Pistons help to make a playoff push and the Bulls get younger players to evaluate. These are not some trades you force on a video game. These are reasonable deals given Mirotic’s production this season and players the Jazz and Pistons may want to move on from.
January 15th is under a week away. Mirotic will be dealt, it’s just a matter of time.