Well, time to cancel your orders for Stanley Johnson Bucks jerseys, folks.
There seemed like there could be potential that yesterday’s Thon Maker-for-Stanley Johnson swap wasn’t the final stroke in GM Jon Horst’s plans. Now, but 24 hours later, it appears Horst was able to move Johnson alongside Jason Smith and future second-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Nikola Mirotic:
Bucks will send Jason Smith and Stanley Johnson to Pelicans for Mirotic, per source. https://t.co/D28YlR6zQ5— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
Hearing that the Mirotic trade will net New Orleans four second-round picks— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 7, 2019
Two of the second-round picks New Orleans will acquire from Milwaukee are Washington's suddenly very intriguing 2020 and 2021 selections, according to a source.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 7, 2019
The move has a lot of moving parts, all of which seem to be for the good in Milwaukee’s case. It increasingly seems like the Bucks have radically shifted expectations for the season and needed more forward/big man depth heading forward. While giving up whatever potential Thon Maker may have had and potentially a bevy of second-round picks hurts, the immediate gain in on-court production possibilities from Mirotic should more than make up for the loss.
That brings us to the Montenegran. Mirotic arrived in New Orleans a year ago after spending his first seasons with the Chicago Bulls. He’s slotted in nicely alongside Anthony Davis in the frontcourt while averaging 16.7 points (.447/.368/.842) and 8.3 rebounds this season. A solid three-point shooting big who is a reliable rebounder will have immense value in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system the rest of the year.
Beyond the on-court aspects, Mirotic is on the final year of his contract at $12.5 million. Not only does his expiring give Milwaukee even more room in the coming off-season to re-tool or re-sign the core of the current team, but swapping two players for one means the Bucks now also have an open roster slot to troll the buyout market with.
Jon Horst has shot his shot this trade deadline. Now it’s up to Bud and the Bucks to make it happen.