Basketball / Sports

Bulls welcome Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic

The Chicago Bulls used some red carpet treatment for a twosome they hope can push them into championship status their fellow United Center tenant -- the Blackhawks -- has enjoyed.

The Bulls introduced Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol on Friday, their main offseason acquisitions after missing on top target Carmelo Anthony.

If Gasol was the consolation prize, Joakim Noah certainly didn't treat him that way in his efforts to recruit the former Laker.

"Joakim came to L.A. for the meeting with me," Gasol said during Friday morning's press conference. "He's obviously a great player. His contribution and input was important.

"I talked to Derrick on the phone. I wanted to talk to him because he's a big part of this team. I wanted to see how he felt, not only physically but with having me on board," Gasol said.

Mirotic, who was introduced first, said, "It's a pleasure to have that opportunity for me. Since I have been drafted in 2011, I've watched many games of the Bulls, and I've always dreamt about the moment of being here and playing with them.

"And now that I'm here I will work as hard as possible to get the most victories out of next season," he said.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau said Mirotic is a "real fit" for the Bulls.

"He's a big who is extremely skilled," Thibodeau said. "He's a spacing four who shoots the 3 very well. He's versatile in that he can play inside or outside. He has a high basketball IQ and a good motor."

Mirotic acknowledged that many Real Madrid fans expected the forward to return to the team for at least one more year, but he decided to buy out his contract and agreed to terms with the Bulls earlier this week.

"I felt the adequate moment was right now, was this year," Mirotic said. "Both for me personally and especially because I would have the chance to improve more as a basketball player over here.

"And because I was absolutely sure I could adapt to the Bulls' game on the first year, it played a key role that the Bulls had so much interest in me and tried so hard to get me. And I have valued all that and made the decision to come," he said.

Thibodeau said the the Bulls watched Mirotic improve each year.

"We love the characteristics he has, his intelligence, his drive," Thibodeau said. "Him coming to the NBA is a big adjustment, him learning our league, our system, our players. But he has played at a high level for years.

"I do think it will open up the floor for us with his ability to stretch the floor," Thibodeau added. "Most teams have a power forward with that skill set. I think it's important to have that in the NBA."

While Mirotic opens up the perimeter, Gasol plans to take care of business down low with the help of Noah and Taj Gibson.

"I think we have a really deep front line," he said. "Those two guys (Noah and Gibson) are really talented players. I think I fit well with them. I'm ready to compete with them and make each other better."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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