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Why European star Vasilije Micic didn’t end up with Bulls this summer

Anadolu Efes become 2021-22 EuroLeague champions by beating Real Madrid 58-57

BELGRADE, SERBIA - MAY 21: Vasilije Micic of Anadolu Efes gives a news conference after they became the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions, for the second time in a row, by beating Real Madrid 58-57 in Belgrade, Serbia on May 21, 2022. (Photo by Filip Stevanovic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Vasilije Micic is the best player in the world not currently in the NBA.

Seemingly every summer reports surface of teams interested in the 6'5" Serbian combo guard and EuroLeague Final Four MVP who led Turkish powerhouse Anadolu Efes to back-to-back EuroLeague championships. Then every summer ends and he chooses to stay in Europe. This summer the Bulls were mentioned as primarily interested (the Bucks came up as well), but in the end, Micic chose to return to Anadolu Efes.

What happened? Sean Deveney of spoke to some league executives.

First, there was Micic himself. To ditch Efes and head to the NBA, Micic wanted a few things—a salary in the $6-7 million per year range, a starting spot (or, at least, starter-type minutes), and a role with a contending team.

That limited the pool of teams he would play for, and most of them were already over the cap. Those teams had concerns.

“I think there was hesitancy to give up what would be your whole midlevel (exception) if you were a tax team for a guy who, you’re not sure how he fits,” on NBA general manager told Heavy Sports. “Most of the good teams, they’re tax teams this year. So you’re using your best chance to improve on a guy who has some risk, a lot of unknown. I think the Clippers’ experience with (Milos) Teodosic fed into it where a lot of teams said, ‘We don’t have much to spend, we can’t afford a mistake like that.’”

For those who don’t remember, Teodosic was like Micic in that he was the best player in the world not in the NBA, he came to the Clippers on a two-year, $12 million contract and made some spectacular plays but also never fit well on that team or in the NBA game.

The “process” 76ers drafted Micic in the second round (52nd pick) in 2014, eventually trading those draft rights to Thunder. GMs have seen him as a potential NBA fit for that long time — and Micic will showcase what he can bring playing next to Nikola Jokic for Serbia at EuroBasket — although whether it would work out is always a question. GMs are always looking to limit risk. This year they couldn’t do it enough with Micic, so he is headed back to Europe.

But the rumors will be back next year.