By: Will Burchfield
The Pistons have been “one of the most aggressive teams on the early (trade) market,” Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday, and they’ve recently turned their attention to Bulls’ sharpshooter Nikola Mirotic.
Per Marc Stein, Detroit has joined the Utah Jazz in “expressing trade interest” for Mirotic.
Under the guidance of head coach/president, Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons are trying to win now. They’re 21-18 and in seventh place in the East approaching the midway point of the season, but 7-12 since a strong start.
The power forward Mirotic would give the Pistons some more length amid the continued absence of John Leuer as well as another threat beyond the arc. He’s hitting 46.5 percent of his threes, the third best mark in the league. As a team, the Pistons rank fifth in three-point percentage (37.8 percent).
Across the board, Mirotic is having a career year. He’s averaging 17.4 points and seven rebounds in 17 games while shooting 48.6 percent from the field. Whether that production is sustainable remains to be seen, but his career numbers suggest some regression is in order. Clearly, the Bulls are trying to sell high.
Mirotic has improved his post-up game and shown more ability to attack off the dribble, but his defense remains a liability. The 26-year-old is due $12.5 million in 2017-18 with a team option of the same amount for 2018-19.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Mirotic is “eyeing a big payday” when he becomes a free agent in 2020. The Pistons’ payroll is currently about $115 million.
Moritic missed the first 23 games of this season after suffering two facial fractures when he was punched in the face by teammate Bobby Portis at practice.
Leuer, typically the Pistons’ first forward off the bench, has been sidelined since the start of November due to his oft-injured left ankle. The timeline for his return is unclear, and surgery is reportedly an option.