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2019 NBA Trade Deadline: Pelicans trade Nikola Mirotic to Milwaukee Bucks for Stanley Johnson, Jason Smith and four second round picks

NBA: Preseason-Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Farewell to the ‘Shaven One’.

The New Orleans Pelicans have reportedly traded Nikola Mirotic to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team trade with the Detroit Pistons, further bolstering their frontcourt depth behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova. This might have been in response to yesterday’s deal between the 76ers and Clippers whereby Philly bolstered their lineup with Tobias Harris.

As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans are receiving Stanley Johnson, who was recently acquired in a deal from the Detroit Pistons. He is a former eighth overall pick, who may be best known for his refusal to participate in a pre-draft workout for the Charlotte Hornets (who picked 11th).

At 6’7, Johnson carries the size and weight of a starting small forward, but lacks the scoring touch of a true 3-and-D wing. The Pelicans are likely taking taking a flyer on the fourth-year small forward after having failed to shoot better than 38% from the field, 28% from three in his short career. Johnson is eligible to sign a $4.5 million dollar qualifying offer this offseason before becoming a restricted free agent in the summer of 2020.

Pelicans’ fans should remember former Hornet Jason Smith, who is now in his twelfth season. Smith played for the Hornets during the 2010-2014 years, and was part of the Chris Paul team that took the Lakers to six games in the 2011 postseason.

However, Smith has played in just 18 games this season at just six minutes per game. The Pelicans allow him his free agency if he seeks a buyout. In the final season of a three year, $15.7 million dollar deal, the Pelicans would be grateful to save the coin ($5.5 million).

No, the meat of the Niko deal is four future second round picks coming back to New Orleans. In addition, general manager created a nice exception in the deal.

Nikola Mirotic was in the midst of enjoying a career-year with the Pelicans (16.7 points, 8.3 trbs, on 45% and 37%), but he was set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. While the Pelicans did possess his Bird rights via their trade last year with Chicago, re-signing him to multiple years on a team with such an uncertain future — hello, impending Anthony Davis trade — probably proved too great of a risk. Perhaps his propensity for injury also proved a factor (50 missed games in past two seasons).

Many believed Mirotic may have tipped his hand to this incoming deal last night, when he had a bit of fun on social media. Pelicans’ fans originally thought he may be on his way to Utah, as he and Donovan Mitchell exchanged cryptic tweets just seconds apart.

Mirotic will forever be remembered in New Orleans for his facial makeover, his 30-point scoring output in game three against Portland in the 2018 playoffs, and most importantly, for his positive demeanor and attitude.

In the past 24 hours, the Pelicans have unloaded Wesley Johnson and Nikola Mirotic for Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson and Jason Smith. The Pelicans have also acquired five (!!!) second-round picks for their troubles.

With the deadline fast approaching, it seems unlikely that the Pelicans will engage in any further movement.

But, hey! Ya never know....