Shams Charania of The Vertical first reported the deal. ESPN's Zach Lowe confirmed the move, adding it is "likely just a small salary dump" for the Heat. The Pelicans announced the deal later in the day.
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the Heat will receive a "highly protected pick" from the Pelicans in return, though he noted Miami will likely never get the draft selection.
Following Lowe's speculation about Miami likely looking to just save some money, Bobby Marks of The Vertical noted the Heat are $2.6 million above the luxury tax threshold after saving $2.1 million by dealing Stokes.
Marks added the two deals pulled off by the Heat so far this week—on Tuesday, Chris Andersen was sent to Memphis as part of a three-team trade that also included Charlotte—has saved the team nearly $8 million against the luxury tax.
A second-round pick in 2014, Stokes has struggled to break through in his young NBA career. The 22-year-old played 19 games with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging three points and 1.8 rebounds per game.
Stokes was traded to the Heat last November, spending most of his time with their D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls. He did play in five games with the team, with his final appearance coming on February 9 against San Antonio.
The Pelicans have nothing to lose in this deal. They aren't giving up anything of substance, even if the draft pick goes to Miami, and sitting in last place in the Southwest Division allows the franchise to search for players who can help in the future.
Omer Asik has been a disappointment this season, averaging just 3.6 points and 6.1 rebounds. The Pelicans need to find a serviceable center, and Stokes isn't going to cost much money, so it's a smart low-risk investment for the team heading into the final two months of the season.