Nikola Mirotic surprisingly leaves NBA for Euroleague team

Nikola Mirotic

Mirotic was expected to be one of the top NBA free agents on the market.

In a surprising move, Nikola Mirotic has left the NBA to sign with Euroleague club Barcelona, the team announced Saturday.

The deal will keep Mirotic with Barcelona through 2020 with the option of a fourth season.

Mirotic was expected to be one of the top NBA free agents on the market when it opened earlier this week. He likely would have received offers in the $45 million to $50 million range if he stayed in the NBA, The Athletic notes.

There was some speculation that Mirotic may have left the league because he wanted a bigger role in the NBA and he didn’t think he would be able to get it in free agency. But The New York Times reported the Jazz and Mavericks had shown interest in signing him this offseason.

Mirotic previously played for Real Madrid in the Euroleague where he was a two-time member of the All-Euroleague Second Team. He played with Real Madrid for five seasons before making the switch to the NBA, where he signed with the Bulls in 2014.

He averaged 15.2 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 36.5 percent from beyond the arc last season, splitting his time between the Pelicans and Bucks as he was traded at the deadline.