John Paxson

Report: Why Bulls passed on one of world's best passers

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AP

Report: Why Bulls passed on one of world's best passers

Milos Teodosic was on the verge of becoming the point guard of the Bulls' future, according to a report by Eurohoops and NBA Greece

The 30-year-old Serbian, who's known as a passing genius in international basketball circles, verbally committed to play in Chicago before the deal fell through, and he opted to suit up for the Clippers instead. 

"We initially had a deal with the Chicago Bulls," Nick Lotsos, the longtime agent of Teodosic, said to NBA Greece. 

“I met in Treviso, Italy, the head of international scouting Ivica Dukan, who is the man who took Tony Kukoc to Chicago. His opinion has a real value within the Bulls organization. He is practically the one decision maker on the team. We talked and he said to me that Milos was the best player they could get. After a few days the GM, Gar Forman, called me. We had agreed to a contract close to $30 million for three years, similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic signed in Sacramento. My only objection was that I wanted Milos to have the chance to opt out every summer because I believe that he can all-star money. We were ready to sign and Forman wanted the deal for one more reason. There are many Serbs in Chicago."

Despite GarPax seemingly showing strong interest early in the recruitment process, the team altered its course after shipping Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Post-blockbuster, the team's desire to sign an older guard dissipated, according to Teodosic's agent. 

“I knew that the deal will not be completed after the trade," Lotsos said. "And two days later, Forman called me and explained to me that the team wanted to rebuild, so getting a 30-year-old point guard without NBA experience was out of the question."

With the rebuild in its initial stage, the Bulls are moving forward with Kris Dunn, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne at the 1. 

Still, though, one can daydream about having a PG drop incisive, imaginative dimes such as this one: 

Or this precise underhanded post pass: 

NBA GMs don't think much of the Bulls, but at least Zach LaVine is athletic

NBA GMs don't think much of the Bulls, but at least Zach LaVine is athletic

The annual NBA GM Survey is one of the more revealing pieces of content. For one, even though responses are anonymous it's one of the few teams we get real answers from general managers who more often than not keep their opinions and feelings close to the vest.

It's also a fun look into what general managers value, which players the fans and media may be overlooking, and where the future of the league is headed.

It also generated one of the best interactions on #NBATwitter ever:

Unfortunately for Bulls fans there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about in this year's survey. One of the great things about the survey is that it covers a number of topics, ranging from best teams to top players to most exciting rookies. That means fans of both really good teams and really bad teams have something to see on the survey.

Not so much in Chicago.

Of the 47 questions, the Bulls appeared on lists of just three, and Zach LaVine was the player on each. LaVine, despite tearing his ACL in February, was ranked as the third most athletic player in the NBA, receiving 10 percent of the vote. He trailed only Russell Westbrook (62%) and LeBron James (14%), so he was in pretty good company.

Maybe just a coincidence, but LaVine tweeted this out the same morning:

Also, at least one GM (GMs couldn't vote for their own players/coaches/team) liked what the Bulls did in the Jimmy Butler trade, as LaVine's name popped up under "also received votes" in the questions asking about the player most likely to have a breakout season and the most underrated offseason acquisition. Minnesota's Karl Towns, LaVine's old teammate, received the most awards for breakout player, while Paul Millsap was named the most underrated acquisition.

First-round pick Lauri Markkanen, also part of the Butler deal on draft night, did not receive any votes in the three rookie categories.

Potential first overall pick in 2018 Luka Doncic was named the best international player not in the NBA, and the Bulls could very well have a chance to draft him next year.

More muscle, more money, more confidence: Nikola Mirotic ready to show consistency for Bulls

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USA TODAY

More muscle, more money, more confidence: Nikola Mirotic ready to show consistency for Bulls

Nikola Mirotic didn’t exactly lumber over to the media after the Bulls’ first practice, as a new man armed with a two-year, $27 million deal and 22 pounds worth of additional weight from the summer, the first time in which he didn’t play overseas.

He claimed there were no hard feelings from the summerlong impasse with the Bulls, where his restricted free-agent status prevented him from truly getting to the market, and his career inconsistencies also made it tough for the Bulls to give him an extended contract.

“I knew it was going to happen because with me it’s like every time is the last second. I don’t know why,” Mirotic said. “They made me an offer at the beginning of free agency, so I didn’t take that deal.”

So while his saga dragged along after he couldn’t find suitors, he stayed in Chicago for the most part, adding the bulk—although some would say it was stress weight considering it’s believed Mirotic wanted a deal in the $16-17 million range annually.

“Some people thought I was worried with my contract. No, I was very calm, working here until the middle of August,” Mirotic said. “My weight is feeling great and I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to this season, you know.”

“I’m feeling good. I’ve never felt that strong in my legs, feeling better with the rebounding, and I worked all summer in the low post, especially when I play that pick-and-roll and they switch me, so I need to be available to play in the low post against small guys. I was really working on getting stronger down there so I can finish.”

Coming to Chicago with plenty of fanfare, Mirotic has shown flashes but never the consistency many expected. Slow starts were accompanied by strong finishes after the All-Star break and the cycle of “if Niko can get it right” started all over again—only leading to more frustration when expectations weren’t met.

“I know that you guys (media) are very disappointed. I saw that the last two, three years, those reactions to that,” Mirotic said. “It is what it is. I came back just thinking about what happened. I knew what happened. I worked on all my weaknesses this summer. It’s time to change some things. I’m in a place where I can improve and get better.”

This time last year, the Bulls did everything they could to make Mirotic seize the power forward spot in training camp. Too bad Taj Gibson wasn’t notified and outworked everybody to join the first five.

But Gibson was traded in midseason, Jimmy Butler was traded and Dwyane Wade was bought out Sunday night, leaving Mirotic as somewhat an elder statesman on a team that doesn’t carry any playoff expectations for the season.

Now he’ll have to battle rookie Lauri Markkanen and third-year forward Bobby Portis for minutes at power forward, since it doesn’t appear he’ll play any small forward after playing there sparingly his first two seasons.

One can see Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg playing Mirotic and Markkanen together at center and power forward to have two floor-stretchers—although defense and rebounding will be a concern in the pairing.

“Everything's open right now. Lauri obviously had a great summer,” Hoiberg said. “He's got to work himself back into great shape right now. Basically since the European championships have been over, he's taken time off to recover and regroup and recharge his batteries.

“Bobby Portis has had a great summer. He's been around pretty much every day since the summer league.”

Mirotic said he was notified by management in the exit meetings the team would look different, but didn’t foresee Butler being traded on draft night. Now as long as he stays healthy, he’ll be a primary option on offense and until Zach LaVine makes his Chicago debut—which likely won’t take place until mid-December—he’ll have plenty of time to display his versatility in Hoiberg’s free-flowing system.

“It’s great, especially knowing how Fred wants to play this year,” Mirotic said. “They’re going to play fast, there’s no more like holding the ball, playing isolation. Now it’s more free, like when we used to play with Rajon (Rondo) on that second unit. Just play free and share the basketball. This is how it’s going to look.”

Clearly one who’s aware of the prognosticators who’ve said the Bulls will finish at the bottom of the standings, Mirotic added a bit of a bold statement, although it should be taken with a grain of preseason salt.

“I don’t think we’re going to be that bad like people are thinking.’’