LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Chicago forward Nikola Mirotic made the trip to Portland for Wednesday’s game against the Trail Blazers, but the Bulls said he wouldn’t play as they seek to accommodate his trade request.
The Montenegro-born Spaniard reportedly rejected a proposed trade to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday because the Pelicans wouldn’t commit to picking up his $12.5 million option for next season.
The Bulls also have certain minimum requirements for a deal, reportedly, including receipt of a first-round draft pick in return for Mirotic.
“The thing I want is the best for me and my future in the NBA. And I’m sure the Bulls are doing what’s best for them, too,” Mirotic said.
Mirotic has consistently said he doesn’t want to play alongside Bulls teammate Bobby Portis, who left Mirotic with a concussion and two facial fractures when he punched him in practice on October 17.
With the trade deadline looming on February 8, coach Fred Hoiberg said the uncertainty surrounding Mirotic wouldn’t distract the team, currently 12th in the Eastern Conference with an 18-32 record.
“All year, through all the ups and downs, (our players) have been coming in with a businesslike approach, and they have been a joy to deal with,” Hoiberg said. “I don’t anticipate anything different.”