The New Orleans Pelicans dipped their hands into free agency six hours early today, signing 6’9, Euroleague power forward Nicolo Melli to a two-year contract.
EuroLeague power forward Nicolo Melli is finalizing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, sources tell ESPN. Melli, 28, was the top scorer in the EuroLeague Finals for Fenerbahce last season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Nicolò Melli has been a target for the Nets for a while, it's no surprising that Trajan Langdon, who was an assistant GM in Brooklyn and he's now the GM of the Pelicans, brought him to New Orleans.— Orazio Francesco Cauchi (@paxer89) June 30, 2019
Melli (28) possesses the professional experience this squad desperately needs and his scoring-prowess from the perimeter should fit nicely next to Zion Williamson.
“In EuroLeague competition the last four seasons,” Andrew Lopez of Nola.com wrote, “Melli has shot a combined 42.1 (131-for-311) on three-point attempts. He can space the floor in the frontcourt for a Pelicans squad looking for shooting.”
Melli and E’Twaun Moore give the Pelicans the catch-and-shoot spacing that could punish league’s second units and give Lonzo Ball the outlets he needs to drive and kick in Alvin Gentry’s fast-paced offense. The Pelicans appear thin in the frontcourt with just Jahlil Okafor and Christian Wood available to spell rookies Zion and Jaxon Hayes. Melli could bolster that depth in an ideal fashion.
Even more promising, Sam Vecencie and Jacob Goldstein both give the move their stamp of approval.
Melli posted a +3.8 PIPM in EuroLeague this past season, ranking in the 95th percentile since 07-08. https://t.co/JQGIAH29iH— Jacob Goldstein (@JacobEGoldstein) June 30, 2019
Melli is interesting as a fit in New Orleans. He can step out and shoot. Smart player. Assuming this is cheap, I like it https://t.co/LEkd0C1HHT— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) June 30, 2019
The Atlanta Hawks reportedly offered Melli a place on their offseason roster two seasons ago but were ultimately rebuffed, insinuating that the Pelicans may appear serious about keeping him on their regular season roster.
Many dominoes will continue to fall as free agency progresses this afternoon and the Pelicans have plenty to spend. Expect another stretchy big and perhaps a backcourt playmaking veteran to make their way onto the Pelicans roster early this week.
Melli is fully guaranteed at two years, $8 million and will be a part of the regular season roster.