The Pelicans are in turmoil with Anthony Davis asking out.
So, Milwaukee is vulturing the wreckage in New Orleans for Nikola Mirotic. To do so, the Bucks will turn their not-yet-official Thon Maker–Stanley Johnson trade with the Pistons into a three-way deal involving the Pelicans.
Tim Bontemps of ESPN:
The team with the NBA’s best record and best net rating just improved. Mirotic is a high-quality stretch four. His outside shooting and defensive competitiveness will fit Milwaukee perfectly. Essentially, the Bucks upgraded on Ersan Ilyasova, who was their top free agent last offseason but has underwhelmed.
Mirotic is on an expiring contract, and New Orleans was unlikely to get much value from him the rest of this season or retain him. Four second-rounders are a nice haul and will help into a post-Davis future.
Mirotic’s impending free agency will soon become the Bucks’ problem. They already have four starters – Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon – heading into free agency. Keeping all four could be difficult, and re-signing Mirotic now adds another challenge. On the other hand, Milwaukee gains leverage in negotiations if it tries to keep four of the five. Previously, that would have been four of four, giving the players an upper hand.
Stanley Johnson and Jason Smith, also on expiring contracts, were likely included primarily for salary-matching. At least Johnson is a decent flier. The Pelicans can make him restricted this offseason.
Thon Maker is still headed to Detroit.