Trade Deadline Marathon: Day 25
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Derrick Favors, 2019 Utah Jazz second-round pick
Utah Jazz Receive: Nikola Mirotic
After a nuclear Adrian Wojnarowski report dropped the news that Anthony Davis is seeking a trade from New Orleans, teams will be looking at the rest of the Pelicans roster to see who is available.
With a host of players available including Julius Randle and E’Twaun Moore according to Zach Lowe, the Utah Jazz should look at capitalising on New Orleans’ sell-now attitude and go after Nikola Mirotic.
The prospect of swapping Jazz mainstay Derrick Favors for the sharpshooting Mirotic is too good for Utah to pass up, despite Mirotic being on an expiring contract.
The Jazz were interested in Mirotic before he was traded from Chicago to the Pelicans at the deadline last year, seeking to pair the stretch-4 with Rudy Gobert. Trade talks had been engaged per reports from Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, and Mirotic had himself been intrigued by the potential of playing in Utah according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
In Mirotic, the Jazz get one of the more ideal frontcourt partners for Gobert, as the Favors-Gobert partnership hasn’t worked out.
Gobert and the Jazz have been much more effective with Jae Crowder in the frontcourt, posting a offensive rating of 108.0 and a defensive rating of 100.2, versus a Favors-Gobert combination which posts a 100.8 on the offensive end and a strong 98.4 rating on the defensive end.
Spacing issues have been a major issue for the Jazz offense with Favors at the 4 spot, limiting Donovan Mitchell’s effectiveness in particular and quite often leading to Mitchell forcing jump shots rather than driving into the lane.
Mirotic’s career 36 percent 3-point shooting mark is solid enough, but it’s his ability to catch fire that would be greatly appreciated in Utah. Last year alongside Anthony Davis, Mirotic and the Pelicans swept Portland in the first-round series of the Western Conference Playoffs, with Mirotic averaging almost 47 percent from deep in that series, thriving alongside the Rajon Rondo-Davis pick-and-roll offence.
Averaging 18.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, while shooting 51 percent from the field, Mirotic was unstoppable, and has shown that he can turn into a microwave scorer for a period of time.
With Joe Ingles or Mitchell running similar pick-and-roll sets with Gobert, Mirotic would get similar looks and have a chance to get hot from deep.
Favors is best suited as a centre in the modern-NBA and playing at the 5 on a rebooted New Orleans team will at least help keep the Pelicans afloat. Having the Jazz move on from their current longest-tenured player is not out of spite or production levels; it’s merely due to fit issues.
Favors’ $16.9 million contract, with a team option for next season, is moveable to the right team if the Pelicans choose not to stick with the 9-year veteran. If the Pelicans decide to not fully tank, Favors’ production this year should give them hope to stay competitive with a new-look roster.
Shooting at a career best 59 percent from the field while averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds per game, Favors’ game is still incredibly solid for a centre.
Doing this in only 23 minutes, as he loses time to Crowder, also shows Favors’ ability to thrive in a larger role that would be on offer in New Orleans if Davis is traded. The Pelicans would also get a second-round pick back in return, adding to an asset stockpile that is sure to increase while they remain in a selling mode.
With New Orleans now looking ahead to a Pelicans team not featuring a top-five player in the NBA, Utah would be wise to go after Mirotic and take advantage of the Pelicans fire sale about to happen.
All stats per Basketball Reference and NBA Stats.