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Nikola Mirotic sees trade to Pelicans as blessing in disguise

Nikola Mirotic, Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Nikola Mirotic had a bizarre final stint with the Chicago Bulls when Bobby Portis punched him in the face before the 2017-18 season, which resulted in facial surgery and a number of weeks away from the team. Mirotic then came back and played the best basketball of his career before the stretch 4 was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, a move he now views as a blessing in disguise.

“When that s**t happened, I was down,” Nikola Mirotic told ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. “Looking at it now, it was not a good experience. but it happened. Maybe it did happen, maybe for a reason. I ended up here, playing great, playing with AD, Jrue Holiday, having fun, finally finding myself. This is the best basketball I’ve ever played.”

Mirotic made use of his playing time with the Bulls, putting up career-high numbers that only helped his trade value, making him an irresistible target for the Pelicans, a team devoid of shooting and in need of help following DeMarcus Cousins’ injury.

Mirotic’s partnership with Anthony Davis flourished early, giving him a tandem partner to make the most of his shooting abilities.

“[Davis is] a leadership guy, a great guy,” said Mirotic. “I’ve played [with] a lot of superstars and he’s one of the best I ever had. He said, ‘Niko, we want you here. Shoot the ball. Don’t overthink, and enjoy the basketball.'”

The Pelicans have managed to string a good core of players despite Cousins’ departure in free agency, finally boasting the balance of a modern inside-out team with Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis in the frontcourt.