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Bulls begin negotiations with Mirotic

The international man of mystery finally could be unveiled.

Spanish website HoopsHype.com reported Friday morning that Nikola Mirotic has chosen to leave Real Madrid and pay his buyout of roughly $3 million. Per league rules, the Bulls are able to pay up to $600,000 of that buyout, with anything over getting charged to their salary cap.

That's a salary cap that they were hoping to preserve for Carmelo Anthony. But with reports that the Knicks and Lakers both have offered the Knicks' All-Star a maximum contract, the Bulls already started moving to a contingency plan with Thursday's meeting in Los Angeles with Pau Gasol.

Adding Mirotic could be another step. However, a source familiar with the Mirotic talks cautioned that they were not finalized and still in the negotiations stage.

The Bulls swung a major draft-day trade in 2011 to acquire the rights to the 6-foot-10-inch Mirotic, who has blossomed into one of the best players in Europe. He averaged 12.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in Euroleague play last season but reportedly had issues with his coach in Spanish Cup play recently.

Using salary cap space on Mirotic, who is known as a "stretch four" shooter, would mean the Bulls would have to find a trade for Carlos Boozer's $16.8 million expiring contract or use the amnesty provision on him. As of Thursday, the Bulls hadn't definitively told Boozer's camp what his future entailed, only that a trade or amnesty could happen.

Trading Boozer, which always was considered a long shot, is the Bulls' preferred route because it would allow them to stay over the salary cap and sign players like Mirotic to exceptions.

Anthony is expected to make his decision over the weekend. The Bulls left their Thursday meeting with Gasol with the impression his decision could take a while. Gasol is drawing interest from the Knicks, Heat and Thunder as well.

Mirotic would fit with the Bulls' desire to add more shooting around Derrick Rose, a process that began with the draft-day acquisition of Doug McDermott.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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