The Bulls and Pelicans had a deal involving Nikola Mirotic early Tuesday afternoon, both sides being so sure of things Mirotic was pulled off the practice floor.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg talked to Mirotic, and Mirotic left the Advocate Center believing his time with the Bulls was over.
But before the deal sending Mirotic to New Orleans and bringing Omer Asik and a first-round pick to the Bulls could be finalized, Mirotic hesitated, according to multiple sources.
And that's where he stands now, in a moment of pause as he contemplates waiving his no-trade clause for a fresh start.
It's certainly complicated and to large measure, out of the Bulls' hands. Mirotic wants to ensure he pockets his $12.5 million for next season, but the small-market Pelicans have big money committed to franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis, guard Jrue Holiday and want to retain DeMarcus Cousins for the foreseeable future.
Mirotic is with the Bulls in Portland as they begin their three-game west swing and understandably, doesn't want to forfeit his Bird Rights in a deal that won't have his team option picked up--at least by the appearance of things.
The Bulls have been searching for a suitor for Mirotic after having talks with the Utah Jazz, Mirotic's preferred destination. The Bulls are enamored with Jazz swingman Rodney Hood but the Jazz aren't willing to part with Hood, and the Bulls are sticking firm to at least receiving a cost-controlled first round pick in this sunmer's star-studded draft.
Then with Cousins' Achilles injury last week, a need opened for the Pelicans and oppprtunity appeared for the Bulls.
The Bulls thought they had a deal that crossed off several requirements--notably Asik's $3 million buyout after the 2018-19 season, and now one wonders what kind of awkward existence there will be in the meantime between the two parties.
After all, Mirotic made it known he wanted to be a starter and no longer wishes to be in Chicago, especially after his incident with Bobby Portis before the start of the regular season.
The Bulls and Mirotic have navigated that turbulence, with Mirotic playing the best basketball of his career and the Bulls wanting to grant his wishes.
Bulls executive Vice President John Paxson has been clear since taking more of the reins, that any Bull that doesn't want to be a Bull will be accommodated.
But Mirotic put another snag in that plan with his hesitation over his future, considering there's so many unknowns with the Pelicans and their cap situation.
And now, the Bulls and Pelicans are waiting on Mirotic's answer--as the clock is rapidly ticking on this uneasy relationship.