Chicago Bulls trade Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans Pelicans
What's the story?
The Chicago Bulls send forward Nikola Mirotic and a second-round draft pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for center Omer Asik, guards Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen, and a first-round pick.
In case you didn't know...
The Bulls and the Pels have been in conversation regarding Mirotic for a quite a while before the deal was finalized. The deal fell apart as the Pelicans were concerned about Mirotic’s $12.5 million team option that would create problems for them while re-signing big man DeMarcus Cousins in the coming off-season.
The heart of the matter...
The trade was announced by both teams late Thursday afternoon, less than a week after New Orleans lost All-Star DeMarcus Cousins for the season because of a left Achilles tear - and with the Pelicans still in the playoff picture.
John Paxson, the Bulls' executive vice president of basketball operations said "Niko's representatives were consistent over the last several months that they wanted him moved. They never backed off of that stance one bit."
"The draft asset that we acquired in this deal was far and away the best that we got. It's just consistent with the direction, the plan that talked about," Paxson said. "As we mapped out what Niko would be looking for financially, especially, that wasn't part of our timeline. We now have a situation where we're invested in these young guys. Our focus remains on the growth and development of them.", he further added.
The Pelicans have been wanting to trade Asik who has struggled with his health. Now with Asik off their books, Mirotic’s $12.5 million next season becomes easier for the Pelicans to absorb. Still, financial stability remains important for them as they hope to sign Cousins who will be becoming a free agent next summer.
The Pelicans head to Oklahoma to play the Thunder on Friday.
With the Bulls re-organizing their roster and the Pelicans in dire need of a big man after, the trade looks like a win-win situation for both the parties. This trade gets rid of the Asik’s expensive contract and gives them an opportunity to re-sign Cousins.