Nikola Mirotic last played an NBA game on May 23rd, 2019. The power forward was 27 years old and a well-established role player with 40 postseason games under his belt. Headed toward unrestricted free agency, he was in line to get a solid contract offer from a contending team, but he chose to go a different route.
Mirotic opted to return overseas and ink a lucrative deal with the EuroLeague’s Barcelona. He immediately became one of the highest-paid and most noteworthy talents in European basketball, which means it should come as no surprise that the former Bull claimed his first-ever MVP award this season.
The 2021-22 MVP of the Season is Nikola Mirotic 🏆
— Turkish Airlines EuroLeague (@EuroLeague) May 18, 2022
Mirotic led Barcelona to a league-best 21-7 record and averaged the second-most points at 16.6 per game. He shot with absurd efficiency, per the Euroleague’s press release, becoming only the second player ever to average at least 65 percent on 2-points, 45.5 percent on 3-pointers, and 85 percent at the free-throw line.
Mirotic first gained fame overseas during his teenage years as a member of Real Madrid. His play for the organization resulted in plenty of NBA attention, and he was eventually selected 23rd overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. By the end of draft night, the Chicago Bulls had traded for the EuroLeague star, but it wouldn’t be until the 2014 season that a 23-year-old Mirotic would make his NBA debut.
He went on to play 243 games with the Bulls over four seasons, averaging 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds on a solid 36.1 percent mark from behind the arc. Chicago eventually traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans during their 27-win campaign in 2017-18. Mirotic then played just 62 games with New Orleans before he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks ahead of their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019.
Mirotic, now 31, could certainly find himself another home in the NBA, especially after an MVP season. But I think our old friend remains committed to his life overseas, as his current contract with Barcelona runs through 2025.
Not a bad choice, Nikola!