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Nikola Mirotic Traded to New Orleans Pelicans

The Bulls finally sent Nikola Mirotic to the New Orleans Pelicans. Here is why the deal worked this time.

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans have acquired Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic in exchange for Omer Asik, Tony Allen, Jameer Nelson, and a 2018 first-round draft pick, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The deal also includes a second-round pick from Chicago and the right for them to swap seconds with New Orleans in 2021.

Why the Bulls did it:

The pick and the expiring contracts. Wojnarowski reports that the pick has minimal protections. This means it is likely to be conveyed this summer. Allen and Nelson are each on expiring deals, giving the Bulls a little extra spending money, which they will need since they took on Asik’s contract to get the pick. There is also a good chance that Allen and Nelson will simply be waived.

Why the Pelicans did it:

With DeMarcus Cousins injured, they need help. Mirotic is a good option for them right now. The first iteration of this deal fell apart because the Pelicans did not want to guarantee the next year of Mirotic’s contract so that they had enough room to re-sign Cousins this summer. However, with Allen and Nelson gone as well, they may look to bring in a large expiring contract in another trade to ensure they’ll have space. As Wojnarowski suggests, Phoenix Suns center Greg Monroe is their primary target.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks also notes that the Pelicans are now $1.6 million below the luxury tax and $2.2 million below the hard cap, giving them room to sign two players to the prorated minimum exception.

The Portland Trail Blazers had been mentioned as a fit for Mirotic, but only speculatively. This deal ends any talk on that end. The trade deadline is just a week away and the Trail Blazers are expected to be active.