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New Orleans Pelicans were on verge of trading Omer Asik and 2018 first round pick for Nikola Mirotic but talks remain ongoing

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal has fallen through, but others are reporting it’s not dead in the water yet!

NBA: Preseason-Chicago Bulls at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

According to Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago, the New Orleans Pelicans were on the verge of completing a trade with the Chicago Bulls involving Nikola Mirotic, Omer Asik and the Pels 2018 First Round pick.

However, minutes later, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced the deal was off.

The deal breaker seems to be Mirotic, who has veto power on any trade during the first year of his contract. The second year of his contract is a team option that isn’t guaranteed at this time and Nikola likely seeks assurance.

If the Pelicans and Bulls would go ahead and guarantee Mirotic’s second year now, they wouldn’t need his permission to execute the trade.

First things first, this trade needs to include other parts for it to be legal under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Pelicans sit about $1.2 million away from the hard cap — a do not pass go line, and a deal involving only Mirotic and Asik would have New Orleans adding a hair over $1.9 million to this season’s salary cap sheet. That said, if a deal was in place out as initially reported, then these details had obviously been worked out.

Mirotic is in the midst of his best season in the NBA, averaging 16.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 threes. He signed a two-year contract this past September, with the second year being a team option.

One has to assume Mirotic would immediately slide into the Pelicans starting lineup. With DeMarcus Cousins lost for the season, a big void was created, one that cannot remotely be filled adequately by any of the current players on the bench. This trade would keep Anthony Davis at center, but I feel going small is Alvin Gentry’s best route to success for the rest of the season.

As a side note, the Pelicans would seemingly be left without a backup healthy center on the roster — unless one is included within the framework of this deal but we’re yet unaware of that detail.

Since the season started, I’ve been advocating for the Pelicans to trade away their 2018 first round pick if they could remove Omer Asik/Alexis Ajinca while adding at least one useful player to the roster. So close, but it’s not over yet!

Stay tuned for further updates!