Mirotic’s contract expires at season’s end, and he has been rumoured to be available via trade since the news broke that Anthony Davis wants to leave the Pelicans.
The Bucks dropped 148 points on Wednesday night and followed it by acquiring a big man who can shoot the three without giving up rotation pieces. Johnson arrived in the Thon Maker trade on Wednesday and Smith has appeared in a grand total of six games for the NBA’s best team.
Mike Budenholzer has transformed Milwaukee this season with a three-heavy approach. Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova have spread the floor for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is doing otherworldly things on a nightly basis. Mirotic gives another option to fill in as a stretch four and he’s shooting a tick under 37% from beyond the perimeter this season.
Smallball line-ups are popular and a good option to have, but size is still important in the NBA. Last season, Milwaukee had to play Antetokounmpo at centre to surround him with shooting. This season, they are spoilt for choice with Ilyasova, Lopez and now Mirotic. Defence is a concern in the playoffs, mind.
Milwaukee have effectively turned Maker and a few second-rounders into Mirotic, who will be playing big postseason minutes. Second-round picks aren’t nothing, and New Orleans could strike gold with one of them, but this is a brilliant deal for a team in a better position than they could have dreamt of the start of the season.
Mirotic might not get quite the attention of Tobias Harris or Marc Gasol. Milwaukee won’t mind that, though. Their roster is not littered with star names like their Eastern Conference foes, but they are playing better basketball than anyone this season and have one of the league’s most unstoppable players. The Eastern Conference playoffs are going to be fun.