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Bulls close in on Mirotic; close out on Boozer
The Bulls continued taking steps to end Carlos Boozer’s four-year stay with the franchise on Friday, closing in on their 2011 draft acquisition Nikola Mirotic.
As for the dream of Carmelo Anthony wearing Bulls home whites anytime soon? Well, that image that the franchise threw up outside the United Center during Anthony’s visit on Tuesday might be as close as it gets.
After the one Bulls source downplayed Mirotic’s arrival earlier in the week – most likely because of the Anthony buzz – another source said on Friday that the team is now feeling confident that something was close to getting done with the 23-year-old Mirotic, especially after the 6-foot-10 forward reportedly secured a buyout with Real Madrid for $3 million.
The Bulls were able to pay up to $600,000 toward the Mirotic buyout, as they can now start talking long-term contract. But if they paid more than the $600,000 that would be a cap hit to limit even more money for Anthony.
It might not matter.
While the Bulls feel confident that they are still in the discussion, there is a feeling that momentum has been lost, especially with Anthony’s New York team now willing to offer a max contract for his return to the Big Apple, as well as the promise of more things coming in 2015 when the Knicks free up even more cap.
That’s why the meeting with free agent Pau Gasol on Thursday in Los Angeles was so important to the Bulls brass. If Anthony does forfeit his integrity from earlier interviews this season when he said it wasn’t about the money and does grab the check from the Knicks, the Bulls still feel they will be well positioned in the Eastern Conference with the additions of Gasol, Mirotic and rookie draft pick Doug McDermott.
A source did say that in the talks with Gasol, the veteran was told that there would be a starting job for him with the Bulls. That would mean that Taj Gibson can remain a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for another season, coming off the bench.
It would also allow the Bulls to keep Mike Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler. At least one of them – maybe both – would have to go in order to ink Anthony as a free agent.
Then there’s Boozer. Actually, then there’s no longer Boozer.
The Sun-Times reported that the Boozer camp wanted an answer on his future earlier this week and was told by the organization that he was done. With the Knicks still unwilling to sign-and-trade for Boozer and no other interest from other teams for his expiring $16.8 million contract, amnesty was the only route seemingly presenting itself at this time.