Ten days before the NBA's trade deadline on Feb. 8, the Pelicans are in discussions to trade center Omer Asik and their first-round pick in the 2018 NBA draft to the Chicago Bulls for forward Nikola Mirotic in the wake of losing DeMarcus Cousins for the remainder of the season, sources confirmed to The Advocate.
Mirotic, who has a no-trade clause, is in partial control of any deal. Mirotic is awaiting his $12.5 million team option for the 2018-19 season to be exercised, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sources told The Advocate the Pelicans are hesitant to guarantee the $12.5 million deal for next season in an attempt to keep cap space open for Cousins’ contract extension. New Orleans would also have to send out at least one more player to Chicago, in addition to Asik, to match up the salaries and complete the deal.
In the midst of the franchise's first shot at the playoffs in three years, the Pelicans' move Tuesday could relieve the club of some financial burden with Asik's contract. The center, averaging 7.5 minutes in 13 games, is owed $10 million this season as part of a five-year, $57.9 million deal signed in July 2015.
Asik's deal required $11.2 million for the 2018-19 season with $3 million guaranteed in case a potential buyout was exercised in the final year ($11.9 million) of the deal, according to Spotrac.
For a deal to be completed, the Pelicans and Bulls would have to complete a trade package to offset Mirotic's potential $12.5 million option, which is expected include Asik's contract worth nearly $25 million through the 2019-20 season and the first-round pick.
Mirotic, a 6-foot-10 forward, has spent the past four seasons with the Bulls since being drafted in 2011 by the Houston Rockets.
The 26-year-old rangy forward is shooting a career-best 42.9 percent from beyond the 3-point line in 25 games this season and is averaging 16.8 points per game. He missed the first 23 games of the season because of a facial fracture resulting from teammate Bobby Portis punching him in practice.