Bulls: Nikola Mirotic will dress and likely play vs. Rockets


Bulls: Nikola Mirotic will dress and likely play vs. Rockets

The Bulls are as close to full strength as they’ve been in three months with Jimmy Butler returning to the lineup, and as a late surprise, Nikola Mirotic will be available for Saturday’s game against the Houston Rockets.

Mirotic missed the last 16 games with appendicitis and a hematoma removal, but after being announced as “close” and not ruled out by Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, his availability was let out 90 minutes before gametime.

Mirotic will be on a minute restriction as he works on getting his strength back, having lost around 18 pounds and trying to gain it back after complications from the surgeries.

“You know what, Niko is gonna give it a go,” Hoiberg said. “He’ll dress, he’ll be available, he’ll be on a limit. But he made it full contact practice yesterday and the medical staff is comfortable with him being in uniform.”

Mirotic going through contact practices and even taking charges during the 5-on-5 scrimmages has given the medical staff and coaching staff confidence he can play, adding much-needed depth to a team that’s been depleted of that and spirit through this recent 8-18 stretch.

The Bulls have plummeted to ninth in the Eastern Conference with 22 games left.

“It’s, again, we’ll have to keep close eye based on his conditioning,” Hoiberg said. “But as far as how his stomach is feeling, the incision on where he had the second surgery, he feels good enough to go out and give it a try and the doctors are comfortable with it.”

[MORE: Fred Hoiberg banking on culture change with Butler's return]

Mirotic last played Jan. 25 and although he’s struggled most of this season, he was beginning to show some signs, scoring 15 and 17 in his last two outings before having to undergo the first of two procedures.

With Mirotic and Butler back, along with the continued presence of Mike Dunleavy, the Bulls are able to see a little light at end of the tunnel—because they’re fighting for their postseason lives in the last six weeks.

Butler’s return has seemingly sent a jolt into the team—either that or its desperation, as his left knee strain kept him out since the beginning of February.

“It feels good,” Hoiberg said. “Just gotta get those guys integrated in how we’re trying to play. Practice was as good as we’ve had in a month or so. He’s shot energy right into our group and that’s how we’ll play. He’ll bring guys along. He can defend the elite guys in our league.”

Antoine Griezmann professes his love for Derrick Rose after winning World Cup


Antoine Griezmann professes his love for Derrick Rose after winning World Cup

Antoine Griezmann, you just won the World Cup, what are you going to do next?

Apparently, profess his love for Derrick Rose.

In the celebrations of France winning the World Cup on Sunday, French forward Griezmann spotted his teammate Paul Pogba getting interviewed by FOX Sports. Recognizing this was the American audience, Griezmann took the mic from FOX's Jenny Taft and had one thing to say:

"I love Derrick Rose."

Griezmann, who scored a goal in France's 4-2 win against Croatia in the final, is a big NBA fan. He has been spotted at multiple games over the years, including Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Cavs.

This also isn't the first time he has made a comment about D-Rose. He recently signed a contract extension with his club team, Atletico Madrid, but a year ago said the only way he would leave was to play with Rose.

"I would only leave Atleti to play with Derrick Rose," Griezmann said through translation.

In 2015 he posted an image of himself in a Derrick Rose Bulls jersey to his Instagram.

Later that year he took in a Bulls game and got a photo with Joakim Noah.

Maybe when the 27-year-old is ready to leave Europe, he will join a Major League Soccer team just so he can watch more NBA games.

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

The Bulls ‘rebuild’ seems to be just a one-year experiment after the team signed Chicago native Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40-million dollar deal on Saturday. Although on first look Parker’s contract would seem to restrict what they can do in free agency next summer, the reality is that the 2nd year team option gives the Bulls plenty of flexibility with—or without- Parker next year.  

If the Bulls pick up the option on Parker, they will still be able to sign a max free agent next July if they make the right moves between now and July 1, 2019.

The NBA projects the 2019-20 cap will rise to $109 million, up from $101.9 million for the upcoming season. The league bases a ‘max’ salary on years of service. A 10-year vet like Kevin Durant is eligible for more ($38.2 million) than his teammate Klay Thompson ($32.7 million), an 8-year vet. If the Bulls keep Parker, they’ll enter free agency with approximately $15.4 million next summer—far short of the cap space needed for a player like Durant or Thompson, but that number is misleading. The $15.4 million also includes cap holds (salary slots assigned to a player based on several factors including previous year’s salary). The cap hold is designed to prevent teams from completely circumventing the soft cap model the league uses. The cap holds for Bobby Portis ($7.5 million) and Cameron Payne ($9.8 million) are just theoretical if the Bulls don’t sign either to a contract extension before the October 31, 2018 deadline. 

Let’s say the Bulls are in line to sign a star free agent like Thompson; all they would need to do is rescind any qualifying offer to Payne or Portis, and then renounce them as free agents. This would effectively take the cap holds off the Bulls’ cap sheet and give them approximately $32.7 million in cap space. Coincidently (or perhaps it’s no coincidence), that’s the exact salary a 7-9 year free agent like Thompson would command.

In order to create enough space for Durant and his increased ‘max’ slot, they would need to waive and stretch a player like Cristiano Felicio or incentivize a trade involving a player by attaching another asset in the deal, like a future 1st round pick.

If the Bulls decline the team option on Parker, then they will enter free agency with anywhere between $35 million and $53 million.