The New Orleans Pelicans looked to send a message as the team gets a head start on arranging it’s roster for next season: the team waived center Greg Stiemsma with 2 games left to go.
The depleted Pelicans couldn’t afford to be down another body, so the team signed center Melvin Ely for the remainder of the season. The 35-year-old has been playing in the Developmental League since 2012, but before that spent time around the NBA, including with the San Antonio Spurs and the then-New Orleans Hornets from 2007-2009.
"I had a long year in the D-League and I had an opportunity to play back in the NBA, even though it’s only for a few days, you take the opportunity and you do your best," Ely said. "For me it’s all about the opportunity. The games are a plus in my book. To fight back after a couple long years I had to wait and to be able to get this chance you just have to be thankful."
Ely (6-10, 260) has appeared in 373 games over eight NBA seasons, averaging 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game. He’s wearing #4 for the Pelicans.
Ely was at home in Las Vegas barbecuing with his family after Sunday church services when he received the news that he was headed out to New Orleans on the first available flight, which wasn’t easy to make.
âThe (Manny) Pacquiao fight was Saturday,â Ely said. âTrying to leave Vegas after a Pacquiao fight or a (Floyd) Mayweather fight is hectic. I learned I was coming here at 6:15, my flight was at 7:35, and I made it. Itâs just a blessing. It was meant for me to be here.â
The 6-10 center joins the Pelicans after playing the last two seasons for the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League, where he appeared in 78 games (74 starts) and averaged 13.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in 27.7 minutes per game. In the 2013-14 season, Ely totaled 15.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 41 appearances and was selected to the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star Team.