The title “30 days without Mirotic” written on June 22nd, by Fernando Ruiz of YahooDeportes. Ruiz, a Euroleague reporter brings to light the change in Mirotic’s heart on his future plans with Real Madrid in just 30 days. Nikola has been rumored by many Madrid and Euroleague media outlets to be done in Real Madrid. What would prompt such a change, when on May 20th his son Alexei was born and a phone call was made to his agent,
“I am staying in Madrid. My son has just been born,” says Mirotic, “I want to remain for one more year in order to win the Euroleague. The money does not matter to me. Make it happen”.
Confirming earlier reports that Nikola would only be interested in leaving for the NBA, if he in fact did bring a championship to Madrid. Without the title, Bulls fans would seemingly have to wait yet another season to see this Montenegrin play in the United Center in a Bulls uniform. But, since that day things changed. Tensions flared, minutes were cut, Mirotic was no longer a top option for the team. What fueled this turmoil? How could a team, with such great talent and chemistry all year fall apart in the last 30 days?
That same night in which his child was born, Real Madrid had a game in the Palace against Gipuzkoa Basket, the winner would make a trip to the Final Four. Mirotic would leave his wife and newborn child in the hospital to play along side his teammates, and be to the services of head coach, Pablo Laso. Mirotic, playing with an injured hand, would play just 2 minutes into the first quarter before being given his first blow of the night. He would sit out the remaining minutes of the first quarter, and took the court once again in the second. After losing the ball out-of-bounds, Laso decides to once again sit Niko, now having played a total of just 3:48 of the entire first half. Sergio Rodriguez tries to talk Laso out of siting Niko, but is told sit back down and be quiet. This would prove to be the beginning of the end.
In the locker room at half time the bomb drops. Mirotic approached Pablo Laso, and asks for an explanation for having played such short minutes, when he left his wife and baby behind at the hospital to play. He also reminds Laso of his wrist injury and how he has been playing through the pain. Laso then explodes, telling the trainers to take Niko to the hospital and run tests on his injury and leave the arena. The rest of the team looks on in shock as their young star exits the locker room. Real Madrid would go on to win the game without #12 returning to the court, earning themselves a spot in the Final Four.
The locker room fight went off like a bomb, Ruiz reports, and the tension within the players, as well as Mirotic, and head coach Laso continued to multiply with every day that passed, without having any resolve to the situation. Something that could have been turned around and forgotten over a meeting at dinner or a team meeting, seemed to be pushed to the back burner. Now the small fight that escalated continues to stick around and worsen with every small problem that arises with the coach and his players. Ultimately, taking the small disagreement and making it into an unfixable problem.
A month passes and still no discussion on how to fix the already unfixable. Players avoid the coaches and have private meetings. There is a divide between players and coaching staff in the locker room. Mirotic isn’t getting the playing time he has earned or deserves, maybe because of the ongoing battle within the coaching staff, or the fact that he is hobbled by Plantar Fasciitis. He is a star in the Euroleague, and now it looks as if he is all but a benched star.
Mirotic’s agent has claimed that Niko should be paid as a top 5 paid player in Europe. He offered a little more than half of what his agent had asked for, and continued to see minutes disappear. With the unhealthy turmoil in the locker room along with the lack of payment for his services, it seems Niko and Real Madrid are through. Which is why reports out of Madrid are that he is on his way to the US this upcoming season, and they are already looking at a possible replacement for him.
Recently, Joe Cowley released an article stating, “According to one source, the Bulls were not aware that Mirotic has grown disenchanted with Real Madrid and was ready to join them. Also, claiming that it is “news to them” that he is on his way to Chicago. I view the Bulls response as a smoke screen, as this news comes on the eve of NBA free agency. They are keeping their priorities in line. It wouldn’t look to good if they claimed Melo was their Plan A but yet, already had things worked out with Mirotic before Melo met with the team. Although, our source and news out of Madrid states, “no matter the outcome with Melo, Niko is coming”. There is no way the Chicago Bulls are unaware of the disconnect that is going on with their European star. Perhaps the Bulls are being mum on the Mirotic talk, because they ultimately don’t know Mirotic’s fate. Will he play home games in the United Center for them if in fact the reports are true coming out of Spain? Or will he be used as a trading piece to land a bigger NBA star and begin his NBA journey in a different uniform?
One thing is for certain, and I say this with confidence, Mirotic wants out of Spain and in a Bulls uniform yesterday. His feelings on this are strong, and decisive. “His agent, Igor Crespo, is certain that the Bulls will get Niko this upcoming season” another source tells the Bulls Zone. Now it remains to be seen, when he will land in Chicago.
“The loss in the 5th game allowed the hispano-Montenegrin to say goodbye on the court in front of his fans. He is moving to Chicago. Basically, everything boils down to the loss before the game to David Blatt (the new head coach in Cleveland) in Milan, to finally break the harmony in the heart of Real Madrid. When up until a few weeks ago, there had been a perfect conjunction between technical bodies, staff, and fans, it has been degenerating into cysts, which are now very difficult to remove. If victories, problems, and hatreds exist in any locker room are deluted as a spoonful of sugar in coffee, losses emerge in mistrust, the nerves; everything is oil in a glass of water.” -Fernado Ruiz Yahoo Deportes
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