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2019 NBA Trade Deadline: New Orleans Pelicans continue to explore market for Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic

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Two core players remain prevalent in trade talks.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Stein is reporting today that forward/centers Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic remain on the trade block for the New Orleans Pelicans.

If you may remember, ESPN’s Zach Lowe first reported that both Mirotic and Randle (along with E’Twaun Moore) were made available by the Pelicans for trade during one of his podcasts last week featuring Howard Beck and Brian Windhorst.

Randle, who is averaging 19.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists, signed a two-year deal with the Pelicans during the last free agency period, but next season is a player option. Since first learning the details of his contract, many have assumed Randle was likely to opt out of a deal that’s slated to pay him a hair over $9 million in 2019-20.

As for Mirotic, he is in the final year of his two-year deal with the Pelicans, but it is important to note that New Orleans holds his Bird rights. This is key because any team willing to trade for him now would have the inside track of retaining him down the road. His averages of 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds are nice, but while he doesn’t possess the playmaking of Randle, Niko is considered one of the better perimeter threats around the league. He is averaging 2.7 makes from three-point range on 36.8% shooting.

If asked to make a prediction, I would venture to guess that only one of the two players gets dealt before the deadline — Julius Randle. Although Mirotic is more valuable and thus should net a more positive return, I’ll wager that no team winds up meeting New Orleans asking price. The Pelicans, if the plan is to do a quick rebuild around Jrue Holiday and the assets Anthony Davis brings in, might be interested in re-signing Mirotic themselves so there’s not as much pressure to move on from him now.

Stay tuned!