Mirotic, Hinrich moves boost Bulls
LAS VEGAS — The 2014-15 Bulls are taking shape. They’re just not making it official yet.
League sources said Kirk Hinrich will follow Pau Gasol and officially sign in the coming days. Nikola Mirotic tweeted that he will “fulfill a dream” and leave Real Madrid for the Bulls.
But as backup center Greg Smith’s imminent trade to the Mavericks indicates, the Bulls’ financial picture is fluid. The deadline to use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer is Wednesday. The Bulls also could move other contracts, like Anthony Randolph’s expiring $1.825 million deal, and perhaps swing a trade to upgrade the perimeter.
Sources said Gasol’s three-year deal won’t be for less than $6 million annually. Hinrich signed a two-year deal worth $5.6 million, with NBA.com reporting the second year as a player option.
The Bulls are able to contribute $600,000 of Mirotic’s roughly $3.2 million buyout without it counting against their cap. A league source confirmed he will sign a three-year, $17 million deal.
Mirotic, acquired on draft day in 2011, adds another shooter as he connected on 46 percent from 3-point range for Real Madrid. A 6-foot-10 “stretch four,” he was named Spanish League MVP in 2013 and is regarded as one of Europe’s best players.
The Bulls may wait until Wednesday’s deadline for the Boozer amnesty to continue shopping him. But given that Gasol turned down midlevel exception offers from other contending teams and the Bulls would remain a capped team and thus be able to offer Gasol only that same exception if they traded Boozer, that’s unlikely. Hinrich getting signed to the “room exception” is another indication that Boozer’s amnesty is imminent.
Gasol’s Bulls jersey, albeit with No. 00 instead of likely his preferred No. 16, already is available for purchase at NBAstore.com.
“He’s got a nice midrange game and I can learn some stuff from him too,” second-year swingman Tony Snell said. “He and Joakim Noah are going to be two good post players down there.”
The return of Hinrich, who has spent nine of his 11 seasons with the Bulls, will add backcourt depth and closed the door on D.J. Augustin, who agreed to join the Pistons on Sunday night. A favorite of management and coach Tom Thibodeau, Hinrich averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 assists in 73 games last season.
The Bulls view him as an ideal complement for Derrick Rose because he can take defensive and ball-handling responsibilities off Rose’s plate. Hinrich, 33, drew more lucrative interest from elsewhere.
As of now, the Bulls have a starting five of Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Gasol and Noah. The bench consists of Hinrich, Mirotic, Snell, Randolph, Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow.
Meanwhile, who said the Bulls-Heat rivalry is dead?
Two days after LeBron James left Miami to return to his home-state Cavaliers, Luol Deng agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Heat.
Deng turned down a three-year, $30 million offer from the Bulls in January before getting dealt to the Cavaliers. The Bulls avoided the luxury tax with the deal, made in the wake of Rose’s knee injury.
Deng turned down the Bulls’ take-it-or-leave-it offer as much for the tenor of the negotiations than the monetary value. In the summer of 2013, the Bulls tabled contract extension talks and then approached Deng with their final offer before making the move to acquire — and quickly waive — Andrew Bynum’s contract.
Deng, 29, is a two-time All-Star who will join Chris Bosh, with the re-signings of Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem imminent. Heat President Pat Riley previously received verbal commitments from Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.
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