The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed in principle to acquire Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic, ahead of the looming Feb. 8 trade deadline. The two sides had previously tried to complete the deal, but it fell through due to uncertainty over whether the Pelicans would pick up Mirotic’s $12.5 million team option for the 2018-19 season.
The Pelicans will also receive a 2018 protected first-round pick from the Bulls for Omer Asik, Tony Allen, Jameer Nelson and a future first-round pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday.
The Bulls plan to waive Allen and keep Nelson, a source said. Mirotic’s $12.5 million contract has placed New Orleans $1.6 million below the luxury tax and $2.2 million below the hard cap, according to ESPN.
The Pelicans have also gained cap space to sign two players to the prorated minimum exception. The Bulls are planning to return the Pelicans second-round pick they acquired from the Quincy Pondexter deal, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Meanwhile, the trade had positioned the Pelicans to land center Greg Monroe, who agreed to a buyout of his remaining $17.8 million contract Wednesday with the Phoenix Suns. Monroe will become an unrestricted free agent after he clears waivers Friday evening.
The Pelicans are without All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins following a season-ending injury on Jan. 26.
Mirotic was selected 23rd overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2011 NBA Draft, but landed on the Bulls through a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He re-signed with the Bulls in August where he averaged 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds. Mirotic sat out with facial fractures after a fight with Bobby Portis during practice on Oct. 17.
Mirotic missed the first 23 games of the season because of injury.