Bucks acquire forward Nikola Mirotic before NBA trade deadline
The Milwaukee Bucks acquired New Orleans Pelicans sweet-shooting forward Nikola Mirotic hours before the 2019 NBA trade deadline, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski.
Milwaukee will send back center Jason Smith and very recent acquisition Stanley Johnson to the Pelicans, who also received four second round picks in the deal, at least two of which originally belonged to Washington.
The 6-foot-10 Mirotic is averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, both career highs. He is also shooting nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc on 7.2 attempts per game, which makes him a perfect fit for Mike Budenholzer's three-heavy system in Milwaukee. Mirotic is currently out with a strained calf, so he may not appear in the Bucks' lineup until after the looming All-Star break, but he will likely soak up the minutes currently allotted for Ersan Ilyasova and DJ Wilson.
A healthy Mirotic undoubtedly lifts the Bucks' floor and ceiling – he averaged 18.3 points on 46 percent three-point shooting in New Orleans' first round playoff sweep of Portland last spring – though he adds yet another expiring contract to Milwaukee's rotation. Mirotic will hit free agency this summer along with Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe. Malcolm Brogdon will also be a restricted free agent this summer, and first-time All-Star Khris Middleton is expected to exercise the opt out in his contract.
And after trading two players for one in this deal, the Bucks could use their newfound roster spot in the buyout market and sign another pending free agent. (Bats eyes emoji toward Marquette grad and former Wisconsin Mr. Basketball Wesley Matthews, who is expected to be bought out by the New York Knicks in the coming days.)
This is the most exciting Bucks team in decades, but it certainly will not be the same group on the 2019-20 Opening Night in October.
But those roster question marks are for a different day. As other East contenders push their chips in, the Bucks added another talented piece to their already impressively deep rotation without sacrificing a real asset. The Bucks are doubling down on the strategy to surround Giannis Antetokounmpo with as many shooters as possible – and if Wednesday night's scoring outburst is any indication, the rest of the NBA should be on high-alert.
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