Nikola Mirotic and the Chicago Bulls are in the middle of the rumor mill as the NBA’s trade deadline slowly approaches. The latest speculations have talked about a potential deal with the Detroit Pistons for a trade package that includes third-year small forward Stanley Johnson.
The 26-year-old Mirotic is presently having a career season, averaging 17.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 25.1 minutes per game, despite playing only 17 games so far. He just made his season debut last month after being sidelined for the first 23 games of 2017-2018 due to a concussion and multiple facial fractures.
Mirotic suffered the injury after getting punched in the face by teammate Bobby Portis during one of the Bulls’ practice sessions last offseason. The two have since played together on the court and had some new-found chemistry between them, but are still not talking to each other off the floor, according to multiple reports.
Despite the on-court progress, Mirotic reportedly “still wants out” of Chicago and has advised the Bulls “where he’d like to play through his representatives,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The 6-foot-10 stretch four has a no-trade clause in his contract, but it can be canceled if the club chooses to activate its team option this summer.
Mirotic has been linked to several other clubs including the New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, and Cleveland Cavaliers, but a trade to the Pistons appears to be building up in recent rumors.
Bleacher Report predicted a trade that would send Mirotic and point guard Jerian Grant to Detroit in exchange for Stanley Johnson, Jon Leuer, and a 2018 first-round selection (protected).
Johnson, 21, was selected eighth overall by Detroit during the 2015 NBA Draft. The former Arizona star has been known for his defensive prowess, but his offensive skill set remains to be in question.
The report noted that the Pistons are one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league (fifth overall), but the team is not taking enough shots from beyond the arc to maximize it. At the moment, head coach Stan Van Gundy’s men are 18th in the NBA when it comes to three-pointers attempted per game.
Adding Mirotic, who shoots 5.9 three-pointers a night on a 46.5 percent clip for the Bulls this season, would surely increase the Pistons’ three-point attempts per game.
Meanwhile, SB Nation’s Detroit Bad Boys blog said that the Pistons are “willing to deal” Johnson before next month’s trade deadline.
Other clubs are said to be “more interested” in trading for rookie Luke Kennard, but the Pistons are not prepared to include the former Duke standout in any deals, the blog noted.