According to reports, the Milwaukee Bucks have struck a three-team deal between them, the New Orleans Pelicans and the Detroit Pistons and will acquire veteran forward Nikola Mirotic.
As it turns out, the Milwaukee Bucks had bigger plans up the sleeve as time continues to tick down ahead of Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline.
First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the Bucks will be acquiring veteran forward Nikola Mirotic in a three-team deal between the Bucks, the Detroit Pistons and the New Orleans Pelicans.
This comes a day after Milwaukee dealt big man Thon Maker to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Stanley Johnson and as Wojnarowski followed up moments later, it was all part of a bigger swing that brought all three teams into a deal with the Bucks sending Johnson as well as veteran big man Jason Smith to New Orleans.
Another significant component to this move is the draft compensation that will be going the Pelicans’ way.
According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, New Orleans will receive four second round selections from the Bucks, two of which come from the Washington Wizards in previous deals the Bucks made earlier this year. The Denver Nuggets’ 2019 second rounder is top-55 protected, which came to the Bucks by way of the Roy Hibbert trade made ahead of 2017’s trade deadline.
There are clearly a lot of moving parts, but the reason why the deal all works is because the Bucks and Pistons never made their trade from Wednesday morning official.
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Also, by jettisoning both Johnson and Smith, the Bucks open up a spot on their 15-man roster, which gives them an opening to peruse the buyout market throughout the rest of the month.
For now, though, acquiring Mirotic gives the Bucks yet another floor spacer in their frontcourt and a highly adept marksman at that as we’ve seen throughout his previous stops with the Pelicans and the Chicago Bulls before that.
The Bucks had been linked to Mirotic as well Wednesday afternoon, thanks to a report by Sporting News’ Mitch Lawrence.
The Montenegrin is averaging 16.6 points on shooting splits of .447/.368/.842, along with 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in his 32 appearances with the Pelicans this season. It should be noted that Mirotic has been limited throughout the year due to various calf ailments.
Those injury concerns aside, Mirotic’s playoff experience is also something to keep in mind in the aftermath of this trade.
Just last year, Mirotic was a driving force behind the Pelicans’ first round sweep over the Portland Trail Blazers and averaged 15 points on shooting splits of .480/.431/.789, along with 9.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals in New Orleans’ eight playoff tilts last year.
While there’s still some time left between now and the deadline, the message is simple with this trade: the best team in the NBA has their sights set on this year to make some real waves come playoff time.