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Report: Pelicans want 1st-round pick for Nikola Mirotic

Nikola Mirotic, Pelicans

Nikola Mirotic is likely on the move again. Before any team can trade for the sharpshooting big man, though, it must meet the New Orleans Pelicans’ pricey demand for his services. According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, New Orleans is asking for a first-round pick as means for unloading Mirotic before Thursday’s trade deadline:

New Orleans is seeking a first-round pick, league sources said. One source called the franchise’s demands “excessive,” considering Mirotic has been hampered this season by calf and ankle injuries and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

O’Connor also notes that the Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, and Brooklyn Nets have all inquired about Mirotic’s availability.

It makes sense for Pelicans general manager Dell Demps to drive a hard bargain up until the last moment here. The league knows full well that New Orleans is initiating a fire sale of sorts in the wake of Anthony Davis’ trade demand, making most every player on its roster available other than stalwart guard Jrue Holiday.

The Chicago Bulls fetched a protected first-rounder from the Pelicans for Mirotic this time last season, but it’s unclear if interested teams will be willing the pay the same price this time around. Mirotic hasn’t only played in just 32 games in 2018-19 due to his nagging penchant for injuries, but is also a free agent after this season, effectively making him a possible two-month rental should the team trading for him be unable to re-sign the 27 year old come July.

No matter the asking price, expect some needy team to make a play for Mirotic before Thursday afternoon. He’s a seamless fit in almost any system, and New Orleans would surely rather trade him for what it perceives as pennies on the dollar rather than letting him walk in free agency this summer for nothing.