In the middle of his fourth season with the Chicago Bulls, Nikola Mirotic was traded to New
Orleans early thursday afternoon in exchange for Omer Asik, Tony Allen, Jameer Nelson, and New
Orleans’ 2018 first-round draft pick. The pick has a top five protection on it, meaning that if the
Pelicans end up losing a lot more than expected, and their pick ends up in the top five, they get it
back. The Pelicans will also be receiving their 2018 second-round draft pick that they gave the Bulls
in the Quincy Pondexter trade in late August of 2017.
What are the Bulls Really Getting?
In reality, the Bulls only care about the first-round pick that they’re getting in this trade. Bulls
Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, John Paxson, said on thursday afternoon: “The
draft asset we acquired was far and away the best thing we had got. It’s consistent with the direction
and plan we talked about this summer.” As of the day of the trade, New Orleans’ pick is sitting just
outside the lottery at the 17th spot.
Along with the pick, the Bulls received the former Bull Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, and Tony
Allen. It’s very likely that Tony Allen will end up getting waived, but Chicago is currently planning to
keep around Asik and Nelson. This season Nelson is averaging five points, two rebounds, and four assists
in 21 minutes per game. Asik has barely gotten any time on the court this season. Obviously, these
guys aren’t long-term building blocks for the franchise, but it doesn’t hurt to keep some
vets around a group of young guys.
Mirotic is Getting What He Wants
This move benefits both Mirotic and the Bulls organization. The 6’10” sharpshooter is currently having
the best season of his four-year career in the NBA. Ever since returning from facial injuries,
Mirotic is averaging 17 points, six rebounds, and two assists per game off the bench. After DeMarcus
Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury, the Pelicans decided that they still want to contend in the Western
Conference playoffs this season. Mirotic will definitely help with that, whether he’s coming off the bench or playing
next to Anthony Davis in the starting lineup. New Orleans is also a frontrunner to sign Greg Monroe, who was waived
by the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.