The New Orleans Pelicans have finally done it, shipping a player in their frontcourt to another team hours before the NBA’s trade deadline. Unfortunately for those following the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, though, it’s a different New Orleans big man.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN, Nikola Mirotic, who had been rumored to be available in a trade, is on his way out of town. The Milwaukee Bucks decided to go all-in this season and make a play for Mirotic, who is averaging a career-high 16.7 points per game in the Big Easy this season.
In exchange, New Orleans will receive the expiring contract of veteran big man Jason Smith and Stanley Johnson, who was traded to Milwaukee in exchange for Thon Maker on Wednesday.
Speaking of Johnson, his former squad, the Detroit Pistons, will reportedly get in on the fun, sending second-round picks to New Orleans. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times the Pelicans will receive four draft selections in the deal.
It’s an ambitious move by the Bucks, which sit atop the Eastern Conference with the best record in the NBA. The team has placed an emphasis on three-point shooting this year with the addition of new head coach Mike Budenholzer, and Mirotic should certainly provide some reinforcements in that regard — he’s taking 7.2 per game and knocking down nearly 37 percent of them.
Milwaukee has as good a chance as any squad in the East of making it to the NBA Finals behind the MVP-caliber play of Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the trade deadline just hours away, the Bucks have decided to make a move that they believe will help them reach this lofty goal.