In the midst of a busy trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks made a splash and dealt Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson, and 4 second-round picks for 6’10” forward Nikola Mirotic in a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons. This deal was finalized just hours before the 2:00 p.m. trade deadline that included Tobias Harris to Philadelphia and Marc Gasol to Toronto.
The Bucks were able to make their own mark on the mayhem that ensued today and made arguably the best trade in terms of assets given and received. Jason Smith appeared in 6 total games for Milwaukee after he arrived in a deal with the Wizards in early December, averaging 7 minutes per appearance and 30% shooting from the field. Stanley Johnson was acquired Wednesday in a trade that sent Thon Maker to Detroit.
Nikola Mirotic has appeared in 32 games for the Pelicans this season, averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 minutes in 29 minutes. Mirotic adds depth to the forward position and can stretch the floor. He’s shooting 36.8% from 3 this season and has had more attempts from beyond the arc than inside. He’s just 27 years old and has experience in the playoffs as a part of New Orleans.
This was a huge steal for Milwaukee. They were able to move two players who had no chance of making an impact in the playoffs and some stacked up second-round picks for a lengthy shooter in Nikola Mirotic. He will assume a similar role to Brook Lopez as a viable kick out option for Giannis and a lane protector on the defensive end. Some analysts criticized his defensive speed, but in Coach Bud’s system he will most likely sit back on ball screens and play man on the opposition’s least threatening shooter.
Milwaukee gave up two players for one which means they now have an open spot to fill in the buyout market. The buyout market is deep this season and includes any players who were meant to be dealt at the deadline or are on expiring contracts and will be waived from their current teams. Some players the Bucks may target in the buyout market include Wesley Matthews, Dewayne Dedmon, and Brook’s brother Robin Lopez. Milwaukee currently sits just $1 million under the luxury tax but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t fill that last roster spot without spending above the tax.
Nikola Mirotic is on the last year of his contract which means he will become a free agent this summer. Milwaukee isn’t expected to resign Mirotic as they already have to rework new contracts for Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez.