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Thursday Musings: The Bulls' Offer, Who is Zarko Djurisic?

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Do Balkan connections make a trade for Mirotic more likely?

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, everyone.

There's an abundance of speculation written about the following matters, so, I'll try and make this quick. Yesterday, it was reported that the Chicago Bulls may be interested in packaging together assets in order to trade for Kevin Love. This news was broken by someone over at SheridanHoops.com, where it is said the Bulls have made Taj Gibson and rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic available as the centerpieces of the potential trade.

Although, a source who is close to the situation claims the headlining names in said package were, and are, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, "as well as a few other assets." Despite this report this source could not confirm Milotic's presence among the offer, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. According to K.C. Johnson, it was reported two weeks ago that Mirotic sought assurance for long-term commitment from Bulls before completing buyout.

Last week Chicago introduced Mirotic and Pau Gasol. General Manager, Gar Forman, stated "We like our depth," after introducing the two power forwards. It is speculated that Gasol covets a position amidst the starting lineup, which means Mirotic and Gibson would be deployed after beginning games on the bench assuming there are no changes made before the upcoming season. "It's tough, but it's part of the business," says Gibson on the topic of trade speculation.

There are two, notable inconsistencies when reviewing the above information:

  1. SheridanHoops claims Mirotic is available in a deal, but this is not confirmed by K.C. Johnson, or the Chicago Sun-Times.
  2. Upon purchasing his contract from Real Madrid, It is uncertain whether or not the Bulls, indeed, promised Mirotic they would not trade him.

According to this column, "Every summer Mirotic goes back to Montenegro to train like a hermit with his longtime coach, Jadran Vujacic." Vujacic, born in Podgorica, Montenegro in 1959 played for several clubs in the former Yugoslavia and also made several appearances in international competitions before his playing career ended in 1998.

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Zarko Djurisic is the Minnesota Timberwolves' Director of International Player Personnel & Scouting, and the upcoming season will be his 19th with the organization.

A native of Montenegro, Djurisic played for the national teams of Yugoslavia at all levels. He came to the United States in 1980 and attended Wichita State University. After graduation graduating in 1984 with a degree in computer science, Durisic played professionally for 11 seasons in Slovenia, where his teams won six Slovenian national titles. Djurisic could very well be someone Saunders trusts. He previously held positions as director of college and international player personnel, director of player personnel and head scout.

Last summer Saunders fired former, International Scouting Coordinator, Pete Philo, as his first move as Wolves President of Basketball Operations, and that's when Djurisic assumed his current job title. According to some, Philo played a key role in the Wolves' efforts to land Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio and Russian shooting guard Alexey Shved.

Why does any of this matter?

It's safe to assume the Bulls are not constricted by any no-trade clauses in Mirotic's contract, because the current Collective Bargaining Agreement insists such terms are only available to multi-year, NBA veterans. As Jerry Zgoda's tweet indicates, it would be unorthodox for the Bulls to agree to such terms --in principle-- with Mirotic. However, because of the possible ties between Djurisic and Vujacic, one could argue that there's logical connections between the Bulls, Wolves, and Mirotic that could extend beyond what has been reported over the previous few months.

Perhaps there's communication between those immersed within basketball culture over in Montenegro, and that's why the Wolves source and SheridanHoops were able to confirm Mirotic's availability to be involved trade discussions that would ultimately send Love to the Chicago. Moreover, perhaps the reports alluding to the notion the Bulls agreed to keep Mirotic after purchasing his rights from Real Madrid are simply fronts in-order to keep other teams from inquiring about the 6'10'' stretch-four out of Montenegro.

If the Bulls are giving up a multitude of draft picks and breaking alleged promises to acquire the necessary assets to entice the Wolves into trading Kevin Love, jumping through proverbial hoops in order to obtain one of the best power forwards in the NBA would justify such efforts [for some, anyway]. Regardless of whether or not what's being reported is accurate, this new batch of offers from the Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers driving up the price of Flip Saunders' most valuable trade-asset is obviously not a bad thing if you're a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

--zb