Nicola Melli

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Pelicans signing Euroleague forward Nicolo Melli

Melli was the leading scorer in Euroleague Finals last season

Seth Dunlap
June 30, 2019 - 2:53 pm
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Before there was Niko, now there's Nico.

The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to terms with European big man Nicolo Melli, sources have confirmed with WWL Radio.  Melli accepted a two-year offer from the organization to make the move from the Euroleague to the NBA.  Finances of the deal were not announced.  He previously played for Fenerbahce of the Turkish league during the past two seasons.

Melli fits what the Pelicans were looking for heading into free agency; a big, versatile forward who can step out and knock down shots from three-point range consistently.  Melli, who is 28 years old and born in Italy, shot 38.5% from long range last season.  He was also the leading scorer in the Euroleague Finals.

Pelicans fans are familiar with foreign big men, with forward Nikola Mirotic having played part of two seasons in New Orleans, including during the team's run to the Western Conference Semifinals in 2018.  Mirotic recently decided to return to Europe, signing a $79.7 million deal with FC Barcelona's basketball team.

Expect Melli to fill a role similar to what Mirotic gave the Pelicans, playing important minutes at both forward positions.  The team was in need of another swing-forward who could stretch the defense while they integrate their offense around rookie Zion Williamson.  Currently the Pelicans only had one forward, Brandon Ingram, who could be expected to competently fill that role.  Now, they've added the desired depth.

NBA Free agency officially opens at 5:00 p.m. CT on Sunday night.

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