Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is still a free agent, but is he worth the team re-signing him come 2017-18?
As of Tuesday, Aug. 8, Nikola Mirotic is still a free agent.
This is somewhat surprising, considering the Chicago Bulls‘ intentions of keeping him around, per the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson.
And yet, with training camp starting up at the end of September, the forward’s future continues to be up in the air.
So the question is, should the organization work toward striking a deal with their 26-year-old restricted free agent?
Drafted in 2011 by the Houston Rockets, he eventually landed in Chicago at the start of the 2014-15 season after playing overseas for Real Madrid. And since then, he has struggled.
Averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game in 22.8 minutes of play over his three years in the NBA, Mirotic has remained inconsistent. Many hoped his lackluster rookie year was merely a result of making the transition from the Euroleague to the NBA. Unfortunately, the development never really came.
While there was slight improvement between his first and second season with the Bulls, the Yugoslavia-native did not have a very fruitful 2016-17. He averaged 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 assist per matchup, having declined offensively from 11.8 points a contest the previous year. He also shot 34.2 percent from downtown, compared to 39.0 percent — a comparison that is especially important in regard to a player like Mirotic.
Brought on to serve as a three-point, lights-out shooter, his career shooting percentage from beyond-the-arc is just 35 percent. While that’s not a horrible mark, it’s certainly not worthy of a “specialist” title. The fact that there has not been visible growth in this area from Mirotic is even more concerning.
Of course, there is no rule that says the forward has to remain in that box. Just because the front office had a vision in mind when signing him does not mean he is limited to that skill-set. But the problem is, Mirotic has not excelled in much else either.
Offensively, he is streaky, and he’s not exactly a defensive standout either. At this point, Mirotic is simply straddling the line of mediocrity.
There is also the fact that Chicago just drafted rookie Lauri Markkanen, a guy who at least on paper, very closely mimics Mirotic’s game. A seven-footer from Finland, he not only has length but can also drain them from three. It was a great pickup by the Bulls, but bad news for Mirotic. Sure, Markkanen also has a lot of work to do. However, at just 20 years old, has plenty of time to develop.
Whether Mirotic would blossom in another system or has already reached his ceiling is hard to tell. While Chicago is not known for player development, it is also possible Mirotic will never pan out to reach his potential.
Either way, it seems in both parties’ best interest to let him walk. Short of agreeing on him playing out the 2017-18 season on his $7.2 million qualifying offer, the Bulls could use their money on other talent and Mirotic can get the opportunity to actually make something of himself.
It is definitely time for the Chicago Bulls and Nikola Mirotic to part ways.