Break open the champagne bottles, Nikola Mirotic is finally an official member of the New Orleans Pelicans!
The full parameters of today’s trade between the Pelicans and Chicago Bulls include Mirotic and a 2018 second round pick (the pick the Pelicans sent to Chicago in the Quincy Pondexter trade) for Omer Asik, Tony Allen, Jameer Nelson and the Pelicans 2018 first round pick. The future first rounder does have protections: 1-5 in 2018, 1-8 in 2019 and unprotected in 2020. Additionally, the Bulls have the option to swap second round picks with the Pelicans in the 2021 draft.
We first learned of a potential deal bringing Mirotic to New Orleans over two days ago. Vincent Goodwill reported the breaking news, but minutes later, Adrian Wojnarowski announced the trade talks had stalled, leaving all hopeful fans in limbo. However, there did remain some promise that the deal would eventually get done.
Sure enough, the attachment of several pertinent details appeared to make the difference. New Orleans agreed to guarantee the second year of Mirotic’s contract and to a 2021 second round pick swap, while Chicago removed another player from off the Pelicans roster and included a very well-traveled 2018 second round pick.
The 2018 pick the Pelicans got in today's trade is their own. It's the third time they've owned it!— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 1, 2018
Originally New Orleans own
Traded it to Miami and got it back.
Trade it to Chicago and got it back.
Although every element of the deal is important, note the fact that both Allen and Nelson were included in the trade. Two roster spots currently sit vacant in New Orleans and that was completely by design.
Acquiring the $12.5M Nikola Mirotic contract now has New Orleans $1.6M below the luxury tax and $2.2M below the hard cap. The Pelicans now have room to sign 2 players to the prorated minimum exception.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 1, 2018
There is strong evidence Greg Monroe, the Phoenix Suns recent buyout, will be the Pelicans next addition. With the remaining spot, General Manager Dell Demps has the opportunity to add another useful piece for the remainder of the season — whether that’s bringing back DeAndre Liggins into the fold or someone else.
As for today’s main headliner, Mirotic should make an immediate impact for the Pelicans. Since DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn Achilles, New Orleans has managed to eke out just 103 points in each of their last two contests. That’s over 8 points off the season average but looks infinitely worse when considering one of the two losses came at the hands of the Sacramento Kings...who sport the league’s worst defense...in a game took took place inside the Smoothie King Center.
Further, the Pelicans have had issues offensively beyond just the last two games. During the month of January, New Orleans knocked down a mere 32.3% of their three-point attempts, a far cry from December’s 43.2% mark. With Cousins’ 25.2 points per game and an uncanny ability to draw entire defenses unavailable for the rest of the season, the Pelicans felt the pressure to add another weapon next to Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday.
Mirotic seems like an ideal fit, and the hope is he’ll be able to soak up a lot of minutes at power forward without being a sieve defensively. During the previous offseason, he added about 20 pounds of muscle to his frame and now reportedly weighs in the 250-pound range.
Not only is Nikola a fantastic scorer, averaging 24.3 points per 36 minutes, he’s also a solid rebounder (9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes) and enjoying his finest campaign from behind the arc, dropping bombs at a 42.9% clip. That deep shooting touch ranks 13th among players who have played regularly and attempted at least a couple of threes a game.
Holiday, Davis and Rajon Rondo and all other playmakers now have another incredibly potent option alongside E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller. (Btw, who else can’t wait to see if Mirotic unlocks a little something in Rondo considering their friendship?) If defenses suffer a lapse, there’s a good chance Mirotic will likely make them pay the most, too. He is averaging 1.36 points per possession in spot-up situations — only C.J. McCollum, Kyle Korver and Patty Mills have proven more dangerous.
All of these statistics are overwhelmingly positive; however, perhaps the best way to quantify the magnitude of the addition of Mirotic is through simple wins and losses.
Since entering the NBA in 2014, the Bulls are 138-105 (.568) with Nikola Mirotic and 13-41 (.241) without him. https://t.co/6f7pVvpICE— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 1, 2018
This season, the Chicago Bulls posted a 14-11 record when Mirotic played but a woeful 4-22 showing when he sat. Playoff bound vs. buried deep inside the draft lottery. Wow! The 27-year-old, hailing from Montenegro, certainly sounds like a tasty elixir for what is currently ailing the roster, huh?
Well done, New Orleans Pelicans!!!