NBA Trade Deadline: Gasol, Mirotic Start Fresh

NBA Trade Deadline

It was a wild 48 hours leading up to the NBA trade deadline on February 7th with a flurry of trades blazing through the league like a whirlwind. At the center of it all was the New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, who informed his team weeks ago, through his agent Rich Paul, that he did not intend to sign an extension with them and that he was requesting a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers.

At the end of all that hullabaloo, Davis was not moved and the Pelicans will study their options over the summer. At the end of the day, his trade-request saga signalled a pivot for the franchise and their plans for the future – they are no longer contenders and will now have to begin rebuilding.

A player who ended up getting moved from the Pelicans was Spanish forward Nikola Mirotic. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson (acquired from Pistons for Thon Maker), and four second-round picks.

The Pelicans reap a bag-full of picks and a young wing player in Johnson. The Bucks get a talented stretch four who will surely prove to be useful come the Eastern Conference playoffs as he joins a talented core of players headlined by Greek superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Mirotic leaves behind a chaotic team in the midst of gut-wrenching throes of a drastic change of plans. Mirotic is expected to be the Bucks’ sixth man moving forward and will provide tons of offense in the second unit.

Mirotic was not the only Spaniard to find himself with a change of scenery close to or at the end of the trade deadline. Both Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr., the core duo of the Memphis Grizzlies were put on the trade block days leading up to the deadline with the team entertaining all interested parties. After the dust settled at the end of the NBA trade deadline, the Grizzlies found themselves keeping Conley.

Gasol was another story. “Big Spain” was traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles, Delon Wright, and a 2024 second-round pick.

Gasol, who is already 34 years old and inching towards the twilight of his productive basketball years, gets to wind down his career like any NBA superstar would want to – competing for an NBA title. He becomes part of a trio of stars that the Canadian franchise will field in what could be their best push for an Eastern Conference crown, if not an NBA title itself. His versatile and unselfish game should slot in seamlessly with Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard.

Both Mirotic and Gasol move from West to East with these trades. It consolidates power in that conference between three, arguably four teams. There should be an exciting slugfest as the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers as all four teams are now loaded with talent.

The aforementioned Sixers landed Tobias Harris from the Clippers to bolster an already impressive roster consisting of Australian phenom Ben Simmons, Cameroonian big man Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, and Jimmy Butler.

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