AP source: Pelicans, Asik agree on 5-year contract

July 2, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Pelicans and center Omer Asik have agreed on a five-year contract worth a minimum of $44 million and rising up to $58 million if incentives and benchmarks are met, said a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club and Asik have not publicly discussed the contract, which under league rules cannot be signed until July 9. The team will have the option of voiding the final year of the deal.

The 7-foot Asik, who turns 29 on Saturday, started 76 games and averaged 7.3 points and 9.8 rebounds this season, his first with New Orleans following a trade from Houston.

Asik now returns to a Pelicans front court that feature's All-Star forward Anthony Davis.

Since free agency began late Tuesday night, the Pelicans have made several quick moves to shore up their interior presence for the next several seasons. They've locked up Davis to a five-year extension and brought back 7-foot reserve center Alexis Ajinca on a four-year contract.

The 22-year-old Davis, who averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks this season, will be the Pelicans' franchise player at least through the end of the decade. The 27-year-old Ajinca, who is French, made significant strides in his fledgling NBA career this season, regularly reaching double-digits in points and rebounds whenever he saw significant minutes off the bench or as a spot starter.

Asik, who is from Turkey, entered the NBA in 2010 with Chicago, where he spent two seasons as a reserve. He then spent two seasons in Houston, where in 2012-13 he started every game and posted career-high averages of 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.

In New Orleans, his primary role has been to defend and rebound, and give the more versatile Davis the freedom to help defend opponents' top scorers, regardless of where they were on the court.

The Pelicans' decision to bring back Asik is expected to put their payroll above the NBA's salary cap, but under league rules teams are allowed a so-called ''Larry Bird'' exception in order to retain their own players.

New Orleans also still has the ability to use a mid-level exception to sign an additional free agent.