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Mirotic: Trade possibility fueling improved play

From ESPN - January 15, 2018

CHICAGO -- Bulls forward Niko Mirotic admits that all the trade speculation surrounding his future in Chicago has been a motivating factor for him as he continues the best stretch of his NBA career. Monday marked the first day of the season on which Mirotic could be traded.

"This is kind of some motivation for me," Mirotic said after Monday's 119-111 win over the Miami Heat. "I know it sounds weird. But people are talking, 'OK, Niko be gone' and 'Bye bye, Niko' or whatever. But for me, it's OK, just do what you have got to do. Play well and try to do your best until the last day and not be distracted. I know a lot of people were asking me before this, 'OK, Niko, Jan. 15's coming, what do you think?'

"No, I am not thinking about Jan. 15. I am thinking day by day, doing my job, being consistent, everybody's talking about that the last couple years, and that's my goal. Because when I focus day by day, it's for me easier."

Mirotic scored all 18 of his points in the fourth quarter Monday. Bulls center Robin Lopez said Mirotic came into the locker room prior to the game dancing. He was all smiles after the game, acknowledging that this is the most fun he has had during his four-year NBA career.

"I am enjoying this moment," Mirotic said. "The team is winning. I am playing well. That's all I can ask ... I know my name is going to be there [in trade speculation]. But I am doing my job, I am sure [the Bulls front office is] doing their job, and we are both going to do what's the best for the team."

Mirotic's turnaround has become one of the most interesting stories of the season, given that his season did not start until Dec. 8. He missed the first six weeks of the season after being knocked out by teammate Bobby Portis in a practice scuffle and suffering a concussion and facial fractures. Since coming back, the Bulls are 14-7 with Mirotic on the floor. He is averaging career highs in points with 17.3 and rebounds with 6.9 per game. Portis is also averaging career highs with 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.

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