Philadelphia 76ers receive: Nikola Mirotic
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Markelle Fultz and Mike Muscala
While the trade to get Jimmy Butler earlier in the season was necessary to increase the ceiling of the team, the damage it did to the 76ers depth has been more apparent than expected, with the spacing on the floor especially suffering. At the same time the relationship between former number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and the 76ers has soured, with Fultz earlier in the season requesting a trade. Philadelphia doesn’t need any distractions right now as it prepares for a Finals run that will hopefully convince Butler to stay. At the same time, they’d like to score some added depth that can shoot from deep. A stretch four like Nikola Mirotic would be a perfect fit for the 76ers.
For New Orleans, the dark days have begun. Anthony Davis has requested a trade, shifting the game-plan for the organization from fighting for the playoffs to building for the future. As a result, Mirotic plans to leave in the summer when he hits unrestricted free agency, so the imperative for the organization should be to trade him for something, be it picks or a young talent. While Fultz has struggled greatly since entering the league, it’s also true that he’s been battling shoulder problems and the high expectations that come with being the supposed final piece to a championship puzzle. After supposedly figuring out the shoulder issue and getting it repaired, Fultz could use a change of scenery where expectations aren’t as high, and New Orleans would benefit from seeing if Fultz can recapture some of the magic that made him so coveted in the draft.
This trade sends Mirotic to the 76ers where he can be inserted into the starting lineup and stretch the floor for their big 3. Worst case, Mirotic can walk in the summer and the 76ers get off the remaining years of Fultz’s contract, giving them more flexibility this summer. For the Pelicans, this trade gets them a young player with number 1 pick potential, the exact kind of player to give plenty of reps to in a post-Davis world. Mike Muscala is added in for salary matching purposes and to play the power forward position in Mirotic’s place.