NEW ORLEANS — It’s not the trade many Pelicans fans were watching, but the team made a move late Thursday morning.
As part of a three-team deal with Detroit and Milwaukee, New Orleans has traded forward Nikola Mirotic to the Bucks for the former first-round pick Stanley Johnson, a familiar face in Bucks’ forward-center Jason Smith who spent four years in New Orleans, as well as future draft picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojranowski.
The number of draft picks coming to New Orleans could be as high as four second-round picks, according to the New York Times’ Mark Stein. In addition, a pair of those could be picks in 2020 and 2021 which belong to Washington, says Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer. Given the Wizards’ anticipated struggles, those picks would likely be near the top of the second round.
Mirotic has battled injuries this season, but was a key piece in the Pelicans’ playoff run last season averaging 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game in the postseason.
Smith spent time with both the Wizards and Bucks this season, but is averaging less than ten minutes per game. Johnson was just traded to the Bucks on Wednesday but the forward averaged 7.5 points a game this season with Detroit.
The four second-round draft picks would give the Pelicans a chance to find some young talent near the middle and end of the draft, but New Orleans would have certainly preferred getting a first-round pick in any deal involving Mirotic.
With such little time left before the NBA’s trade deadline closes at 2 p.m. central time, it’s uncertain if the Pels are done dealing yet, but any trade involving All-Star forward Anthony Davis looks unlikely at this point.