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Reports: Nikola Mirotic to play in Spain despite having 'major interest' from Utah Jazz; Nuggets poised to keep Millsap

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.
Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — For well over a year now, Nikola Mirotic is a name that has often come up as a player who could end up on the Utah Jazz.

Multiple reports surfaced before the 2018 trade deadline (early February) that a deal was possible, and then chatter returned before the deadline this year. As Mirotic's contract is now up, he has been talked about recently as a player the Jazz would target in free agency over the coming days.

But it will not be happening, as The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported Saturday that Mirotic will be leaving the NBA altogether to play for Spain power Barcelona.

Born in Montenegro, Mirotic is a naturalized citizen of Spain after he played there from 2008-2014 before going to the NBA.

New York Times NBA reporter Marc Stein tweeted Saturday that Utah was in fact interested in signing the 28-year-old to a contract worth about $15 million per season. Such a deal would have meant that the Jazz would have to decline the team option on veteran Derrick Favors.

The 6-foot-10 Mirotic has averaged 12.3 points on 36% shooting from behind the 3-point line during his NBA career. That shooting ability at the power forward position is something Utah is thought to be interested in adding.

Elsewhere, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that the Denver Nuggets will pick up the $30 million team option on former Jazzman Paul Millsap.

The team announced it about an hour later.

There was some question whether or not the Nuggets would pick up the option or try to sign the Louisiana Tech product to a longer deal for less money annually. They would have risked losing him in free agency, however, and again, Utah was a team that some thought could try to add the veteran.

Wojnarowski reported that Denver will also extend a qualifying offer to 2016 Jazz draftee Trey Lyles, who was sent to the Nuggets in the trade for Donovan Mitchell. Doing that makes Lyles a restricted free agent, meaning Denver can match any offer Lyles might get from another team.

Free agency officially opens at 4 p.m. MT on Sunday.