Bucks, contenders make moves

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Associated Press The Bucks dealt for 6-foot-10 forward Nikola Mirotic Thursday.

Toronto, Milwaukee and Philadelphia made their moves. Anthony Davis will have to wait until the summer for his.

The New Orleans Pelicans held onto Davis but dealt Nikola Mirotic to the Bucks, one of the Eastern Conference contenders who fortified their teams on Thursday before the NBA trade deadline.

The Raptors are getting former All-Star center Marc Gasol from Memphis. The 76ers, a day after acquiring forward Tobias Harris from the Clippers, sent Markelle Fultz to Orlando and will hope Jonathan Simmons can provide some production where the former No. 1 pick couldn't.

All the trades were confirmed to The Associated Press by people with knowledge of the details because they couldn't be announced before they were approved by the NBA.

A busy swap season that included Dallas' acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis from New York ended without a move for Davis, the player who dominated the discussion in recent weeks. The Pelicans didn't find a deal for Davis, who had requested a trade and informed the team he wouldn't sign a contract extension this summer.

But the Lakers couldn't put together a strong enough package to the Pelicans' liking for the All-Star forward, who will go back into the trade market after the season ends. There will be other marquee names available then with a free agent class that could be highlighted by players such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.

The Boston Celtics didn't jump into the trading deadline fray but may try to get involved in the summer.

For now, the Celtics appear to feel they have enough to win the East.

The other conference contenders looked for upgrades - and went out and got some that likely will fit well.

Milwaukee (40-13) already has the NBA's best record and Mirotic's outside-shooting ability for a big man would appear to fit perfectly in a lineup around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks acquired Mirotic from the Pelicans in exchange for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four second-round picks.

The deal also includes the Detroit Pistons, who had traded Johnson to the Bucks for Thon Maker on Wednesday.

The Pelicans will receive second-round picks from the Bucks in 2019 (via Denver), 2020 (two, via Washington and Milwaukee) and 2021 (via Washington).

Mirotic, who is making $12.5 million this season, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. In 32 games this season, he is averaging career highs in points (16.7) and rebounds (8.3). He's also making 2.7 3-pointers per game, tied for ninth in the NBA.

• Two games back of the Bucks, the Raptors sent center Jonas Valanciunias to Memphis to acquire Gasol. Valanciunas had been coming off the bench and Toronto coach Nick Nurse will have to decide whether he uses Gasol in the same manner, or returns to a traditional bigger lineup with the former defensive player of the year in the middle.

The 76ers have made two major trades during the season, previously getting Jimmy Butler from Minnesota before the deal to bring in Harris.

All of those clubs feel they improved their chances to be the first East team to reach the NBA Finals without LeBron James since 2010.

Things were quieter in the West, where there were no upgrades by teams currently in playoff position. The Clippers currently hold the eighth and final spot but appear willing to give it up in favor of positioning themselves for the summer, with their moves designed to help them pursue two top free agents in July.

But the Golden State Warriors or teams pursuing them can still bolster their squads by adding players who are free agents. Players on rosters of another team must be waived by March 1 in order to sign with another team and be eligible to appear in the postseason.

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