Coach Stan Van Gundy addresses a report that the Pistons have expressed interest in acquiring Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls. Rod Beard, Detroit News
New Orleans — The Detroit Pistons are hovering above .500, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stand pat ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
Marc Stein of The New York Times, citing league sources, reported Tuesday that the Pistons have expressed interest to the Chicago Bulls in acquiring big man Nikola Mirotic. According to the report, the Utah Jazz also are interested in Mirotic.
Mirotic, 26, a 6-foot-10 forward, is averaging 17.4 points and 7.0 rebounds for the Bulls. He is playing on a one-year contract for $12.5 million. There’s a team option, also for $12.5 million, for 2018-19.
According to Stein, the Bulls are looking to get a high draft pick — likely a first-rounder — in return for Mirotic, though the Pistons could counter with some protections on what level the pick might be.
Pistons coach/president Stan Van Gundy didn’t comment on that trade rumor specifically, but acknowledged the Pistons are looking at some options because of the injuries to Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer.
“We’ve got Jon down and Reggie down. There’s a lot of need and we’re looking around,” Van Gundy said after Tuesday’s practice. “We don’t have anything going on right now, but we’re looking around for people to fill holes.”
The Mirotic news comes as Leuer continues to recover from a severely sprained ankle on Oct. 31, which caused him to miss the last 31 games. The Pistons have been undersized and had to use Anthony Tolliver, at 6-foot-8, as a power forward and backup center, at times.
Jackson’s sprained ankle will keep him out of the lineup until at least mid-February, so a deal could ease some of the burden on Ish Smith as the interim starter and two-way contract player Dwight Buycks as the temporary backup.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff available. We have a roster spot available and there’s people calling. We’re just seeing if there’s anything that makes sense for us,” Van Gundy said. “When you’re down a starting point guard, there’s not a lot of people shopping their starting point guard to you.”
Van Gundy said the Pistons are under the salary cap enough where it wouldn’t handicap any of their trade talks, but they’re not looking to do a complete roster tear-down to fix their issues now.
“We’re under the cap by enough. We’ve got enough flexibility to make a deal; it’s just finding something that makes sense,” he said. “We like our guys; we’re looking to supplement more than we’re looking to change, so that makes it tough.”