By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans acquired forward Nikola Mirotic and a second-round draft pick from the Chicago Bulls for center Omer Asik, guards Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen and a first-round pick, a person familiar with the deal said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because neither team has announced the trade.
The trade comes less than a week after New Orleans lost All-Star DeMarcus Cousins for the season because of left Achilles tear and with the Pelicans still in the playoff picture.
Mirotic has averaged 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds since missing the first 23 games this season because of two broken bones in his face stemming from a fight in practice with Bobby Portis.
Nelson has averaged 5.1 points and 3.6 assists in 43 games for New Orleans. Allen averaged 4.7 points before a broken leg sidelined him for 22 games. He returned to the active roster this week, but did not play in Tuesday night’s loss to Sacramento. Asik has averaged 1.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 14 games this season.
New Orleans has been seeking to unload 7-foot Asik, who has struggled with his health and has been unable to return to the form of earlier in his career since New Orleans signed him to a five-year, $58 million contract that would expire after next season if a team option is not picked up.
Mirotic is due $12.5 million next season, but that becomes easier for the Pelican Orleans to absorb now that Asik is off their books. He was due about $12 million next season.
Still, financial flexibility remains important for New Orleans. Cousins enters free agency this offseason, and the Pelicans hope to re-sign him.
The Pelicans won seven of the last eight games that Cousins played alongside fellow All-Star starter Anthony Davis. Two of those victories came against teams with the second- and third-best records in the NBA — the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics. Since Cousins’ injury, New Orleans has dropped two straight.
New Orleans plays next at Oklahoma City on Friday night.
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AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.
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