Recent NBA trade rumors have emerged that Chicago Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic could soon reunite with former boss Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota as the Spaniard’s quarrel with teammate Bobby Portis appears to be unfixable at the moment.
Latest reports are out that Mirotic and Portis are still not on speaking terms almost a month after the two were involved in a punching incident during practice. Mirotic had already attended the team’s practice sessions, but he has talked to everyone in the Bulls’ locker room, except Portis. Head coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed the lingering animosity between the two teammates, as reported by Chicago Sun-Times‘ Joe Cowley.
“Obviously, Niko and Bobby have not talked. Bobby talked about that (Monday). Niko has had interaction with other players, and we’ll continue to work on it. Niko will continue to come in here and get his work in. Continue to ramp up his workload and hopefully be cleared for more on-court activity soon. To this point, no, there’s been no communication with Bobby and Niko.”
Last month, two days before the Bulls’ season-opener, the team’s website reported that Mirotic and Portis had a “physical altercation” in practice which led to Portis punching Mirotic in the face. It resulted in Mirotic suffering a concussion and maxillary fractures while the club suspended Portis for eight games as punishment. Mirotic’s injuries required surgery to repair, and he is currently out indefinitely.
Even though the account has been highly-covered by the press for the past month, there is still no word on what is the actual reason or cause of Portis’ behavior. However, Cowley reported earlier this month that the Bulls’ players have sided with Portis, which meant that Mirotic would be on the trading block as soon as the NBA allows it.
The NBA prohibits the Bulls from trading the 6’10” stretch four until after the December 15 deadline passes, when the restriction to deal recently signed free agents is lifted.
Moreover, even if the team decides to trade him after the deadline, Mirotic has one-year Bird rights in his contract. It signified that the former EuroLeague sensation’s consent is required before the Bulls can trade him to another squad.
There are a couple of trade rumors predicting where Mirotic might like to end up for the next phase of his career. One option was suggested by Jason Elbaum of Hoops Habit, saying that reuniting with former Bulls head coach Thibodeau “makes sense not just for nostalgic reasons, but the Timberwolves are in need of 3-point shooters.”
Right now, the Timberwolves ranks second-to-the-last in three-pointers attempted per game with 8.2. Mirotic is a career 48.2 percent three-point shooter, which would be a considerable boost to Thibodeau’s rainbow shooting needs.
Elbaum went on to say that the Wolves can offer wing man Shabazz Muhammad and center Cole Aldrich in exchange for Mirotic.
Muhammad, 25, is a young talent with a lot of upsides. He has a hard time finding minutes in Minnesota, though, as he is sharing positions with stars Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins, along with sixth-man extraordinaire Jamal Crawford. Chicago has a thinner depth at the small forward and shooting guard spots, and Muhammad will have a better chance of showcasing his skills there.
Aldrich’s inclusion will just be for salary-matching purposes as the Bulls’ frontline is already deep with Portis, Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio, and Lauri Markkanen. Chicago is likely to deal him away to another team soonest.
Elbaum said that it would be a “win-win situation” for both sides as the Wolves will receive a valuable asset in Mirotic while the Bulls get a “young player with many years of basketball left.”
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]