Chicago Bulls restricted free agent Nikola Mirotic has had reality hit him square in the face this summer.
In a market that is paying stretch forwards with perimeter shooting skills lucrative money, Mirotic can’t seem to get his hands on any of it.
The 26-year-old has watched two weeks go by since free agency began and there hasn’t been any reports linking him to a team.
The Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times are both reporting the Bulls want the market to set the price for Mirotic, and if he does sign an offer sheet, Chicago’s brass will determine if it is a price they are willing to pay for the Spaniard.
The Tribune is also reporting that Mirotic’s camp sought an annual salary of $16 million before free agency began — a dollar amount Mirotic will surely not get.
This is the latest chapter in Mirotic’s steady demise in the NBA since having a promising rookie season with the Bulls.
Mirotic led the league in fourth quarter scoring for the month of March in the 2014-15 campaign and many regarded him as one of the best young talents in the league at the time.
But history has shown that the Bulls aren’t great at developing their assets.
Mirotic has not made any gradual improvement since his rookie year. His fickle shooting habits and shot selection combined with his atrocious defensive skills have lowered his value tremendously.
In 70 games this past season, Mirotic averaged 10.6 points per game while shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from three.
Opposing teams go at Mirotic on the defensive end as soon as he checks into the game, usually forcing Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg to take Mirotic out of the lineup because of how easy players score on him.
In a phone interview with the Sun-Times, Mirotic says he’s remaining calm despite his free agency not going according to plan.
“I’ve never been more calm than now. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because I’ve just decided to be really, really focused on myself and working hard through all of this.
‘‘Like I said at the end of the season, my goal was to get really strong this summer, add some pounds, and the last two months have been great as far as accomplishing that. I wanted to work on my body, add muscle and do what I needed to get better.
“The other stuff is going to take care of itself. I really believe that. Just worry about getting better. Just waiting, staying calm. The good thing is both sides are talking. They want this to happen, too. That’s the most important thing. I’m happy they still want me. I’m very happy in Chicago.’’
If Mirotic doesn’t sign an offer sheet, he could play next season on his $7.2 million qualifying offer and re-enter free agency again next offseason.