The Pelicans pulled off their second trade of the season, shipping off forward Nikola Mirotic to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday
The 6-foot-10 sharpshooter will be traded for forward Stanley Johnson, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft, as well as center Jason Smith and will include the Detroit Pistons as well. The Pelicans will also receive four second-round picks.
The Pelicans have traded veteran small forward Wesley Johnson to the Washington Wizards for power forward Markieff Morris and a 2023 second-ro…
That haul of second-round picks includes Denver's in 2019, Washington's in 2020 and 2021 and Milwaukee's in 2020.
The Pelicans acquired Mirotic last Feb. 1 in response to DeMarcus Cousins' season-ending left Achilles tear, sending center Omer Askik, guards Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen and a first-round pick to the Bulls. They also received a second-round pick in return.
During his 30-game stretch with New Orleans to close out the 2017-18 campaign, Mirotic averaged 14.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, helping the Pelicans roll to the second round of the playoffs.
This season, he's averaged 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, but has been hampered by injuries, missing 23 of the team's 55 games with a pair of right ankle sprains (two games and 12 games), illness (two games), and a right calf strain that has held him out of the team's previous seven games.
Johnson comes to New Orleans from Detroit after it was reported Wednesday night that the Pistons had shipped the 22-year-old to Milwaukee for center Thon Maker.
CHICAGO — Anthony Davis made a point to shake nearly everyone of his teammates' hands during the pregame warmups on Wednesday.
The Arizona alum has started just seven games in his 48 appearances this season after making the starting-five 50 times with the Pistons a year ago. In 20 minutes a game this season, he's averaged 7.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 38.1 percent from the field and 28.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Smith is a 7-foot center who was originally a first-round back in 2007. He played four seasons with the Pelicans from 2010-14. During that stint in New Orleans, the Colorado State alum made 62 starts in 199 appearances and shot 48.1 percent from the field and 80.7 percent from the foul line. He averaged 7.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Since, his production, efficiency and usage have declined significantly during stints with the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks, who acquired him back on Dec. 7 in a three-team trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then, he's appeared in just six games — none since Jan. 16. He's averaging 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 18 appearances this season.
The Pelicans, wrapped up in a whirlwind following star center Anthony Davis' trade request a week ago, were also rumored to be shopping Julius Randle. Wednesday night, New Orleans traded small forward Wesley Johnson to the Washington Wizards for power forward Markieff Morris and a 2023 second-round pick.
Johnson, who came to New Orleans this offseason from the Clippers in a trade for Alexis Ajinca on Oct. 15, has seen game time just twice in 2019 — totaling seven minutes in two games over the past 10 days with the Pelicans struggling through a slew of injuries. He averaged nearly 20 minutes a game during November, but his production and usage has declined significantly since.
Morris hasn’t played since persistent neck and upper back stiffness sidelined him in late December. The Wizards announced on Jan. 3 that the former 2011 first-round pick would be limited to non-contact basketball activities for six weeks, and according to a report from Yahoo on Thursday, Morris is expected to seek a second opinion on his injury soon. He’s averaged 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in 34 contests this season.
The new-look Pelicans take the floor next Friday evening at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who play the first leg of a road back-to-back Thursday night at the Orlando Magic. The Timberwolves (25-28) currently sit two games ahead of the Pelicans and own the 12th-best record in the Western Conference.
In three games so far this season, Minnesota owns a 2-1 edge in the series, including a 110-106 victory back on Jan. 12 at the Target Center. Before Thursday night's games, the Pelicans (24-31) sit six games out of the final playoff spot and have lost eight of their last 11 games, despite Wednesday's 125-120 road win over the Bulls.
New Orleans will continue to play without guard Elfrid Payton, who continues to nurse a right ankle sprain, and fellow guard E'Twuan Moore is listed as questionable with a left quad contusion.
After officially being ruled out of Wednesday's game against Chicago due to a "coach's decision", the Pelicans announced Thursday evening after the trade deadline passed that Davis would return and play in the team's remaining 27 games of the season, despite many speculating that the team would keep the all-star on the bench to preserve his health and trade value for the offseason.