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Game thread: Pelicans sign Tolliver, James via COVID hardship exception ahead of Thunder matchup

Joel Meyers and Todd Graffagnini, New Orleans’ dynamic duo of play-by-play announcers, are on health and safety protocols.

Portland Trail Blazers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans will tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 6:00 p.m., but be prepared to hear different voices on the television and radio broadcasts.

Joel Meyers (play-by-play Pelicans announcer for Bally Sports New Orleans) and Todd Graffagnini (play-by-play Pelicans radio announcer) have both tested positive for COVID-19 and will be in health and safety protocols for the foreseeable future.

In reaction to several positive tests on the roster (Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado), the Pelicans signed forwards Anthony Tolliver and Justin James to 10-day contracts via the COVID hardship exception earlier today. These players will not be available, however, for tonight’s contest.

Per Pelicans PR:

Tolliver, 6-8, 240, holds career averages of 6.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in 730 career regular season games (105 starts) over 13 NBA seasons with San Antonio, Portland, Golden State, Minnesota, Atlanta, Charlotte, Phoenix, Detroit, Sacramento, Memphis, and Philadelphia.

Undrafted in the 2007 NBA Draft following a four-year collegiate career at Creighton, Tolliver began his professional career with Cleveland during the 2007-08 preseason. In addition to his time in the NBA and NBA G League, Tolliver has played professionally in Germany and Turkey. As a senior at Creighton, he captured First Team All-MVC honors, averaging 13.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 blocks in 31.6 minutes per contest. Tolliver helped lead the Bluejays to a 22-11 record and an appearance in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

James, 6-7, 190, appeared in 72 games with Sacramento over the past two seasons, averaging 3.2 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.6 assists in 7.5 minutes per contest. James most recently appeared in the G League with the Cleveland Charge, averaging 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 14 games this season.

Drafted 40th overall by Sacramento in the 2019 NBA Draft out of the University of Wyoming, James averaged 22.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 38.2 minutes per game in 32 starts during his senior season in 2018-19. James totaled the second most points in a single season in program history (706) and led the Mountain West Conference in points per game, ranking his scoring average 19th in the nation. James earned All-Mountain West First Team honors as selected by the media and was chosen by the coaches to the All-Mountain West Second Team. James finished third in career points (2,061) in Wyoming Men’s Basketball history and fourth in career points in Mountain West Conference history.

Tolliver will wear #43 and James will wear #21 for the Pelicans. New Orleans’ roster now stands at 20 players.

For more on the OKC matchup, please give our preview a read.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (12-21) at Oklahoma City Thunder (11-20)

When: December 26, 2021, 6:00 pm

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, League Pass

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.