Despite the team's recent surge up the standings, Nikola Mirotić still wants the Chicago Bulls to ship him elsewhere once he becomes trade-eligible on January 15, and he may have already singled out a potential landing spot. The report says the Bulls are seeking a high draft pick - likely a first-rounder - and the Utah Jazz also are interested.
Mirotic has aided his trade value with his play on the court, however, averaging 17.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 46.5 percent from beyond the arc. Because he signed a two-year contract in the summer before training camp, he can't be traded until January 15. Bobby Portis gave Mirotic multiple facial fractures and a concussion after a fight in practice in October, forcing Mirotic to miss almost two months. The Portland Trail Blazers could get involved with trade talks, as well.
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This trade would help out both teams, as the Bulls would get rid of Mirotic and his hefty contract while taking on Marjanovic who's contract is up at the end of this season.
The Bulls are 6.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Chicago collected seven straight wins from December 8-20 upon Mirotic returning from injuries suffered in the altercation. The team could use an added three-point shooter off the bench, or even possibly in the starting lineup with Tobias Harris moving back to his original small forward position.
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An illness kept Mirotic out of Monday's game against Houston, but he's made enough progress in the last 24 hours that the team is hopeful he'll be able to return to action Monday night.
The Mirotic news comes as Leuer continues to recover from a severely sprained ankle on October 31, which caused him to miss the last 31 games. There's a team option, also for $12.5 million, for 2018-19. And there are a number of reasons moving Mirotic makes sense.
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Nikola Mirotic #44 of the Chicago Bulls moves against Lance Stephenson #1 of the Indiana Pacers at the United Center on December 29, 2017 in Chicago.