Pelicans make big trade deal to pick up Mirotic from Bulls

Posted February 03, 2018

National Basketball Association insider David Aldridge reports the first round pick is top-five protected for 2018, while Johnson added that Jameer Nelson would be included in the deal.

The New Orleans Pelicans have acquired forward Nikola Mirotic in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

New Orleans needed to attach one pick in the first round to unload Asik's salary. The Bulls will also reportedly acquire veteran guards Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson from the Pelicans.

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The Bulls had also held discussions with the Jazz about Mirotic recently as well, a source said.

Mirotic, 26, is in his fourth season in the National Basketball Association and he has career averages of 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds. However, if the Pelicans do indeed sign Monroe, this likely means that the team will pull out of the race of Chicago Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic.

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This trade is unlikely to help the Pelicans much in the long term, though. The return of Mirotic saw a seven-game winning streak early on and the Bulls were beginning to surge at just the right time.

Such cost-controlled rookie contracts are invaluable to an organization with limited flexibility, and at some point the Pelicans are going to need to add young talent to the roster. Having his best season in scoring, Lopez is averaging 12.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.

Indeed, the trade quadruples down on the Bulls' rebuild undertaken with last June's trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, Chicago is $14.8 million below the salary cap and $5.6 million below the salary floor. All of that fed into Mirotic wanting to be elsewhere, especially after the team refused to meet his initial November ultimatum that either he or Portis had to go. Whether the Davis-Cousins-Jrue Holiday trio will be enough to elevate New Orleans to the West's upper echelon in the next few years is still an unsolved question.

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Mirotic and Monroe together capture most of Cousins' skill set, although obviously not almost as prolific and divided between two players. As of Thursday, New Orleans is seventh in the Western Conference, but only two games separate them and ninth-place Los Angeles Clippers.