The Pelicans reached one-year contract agreements with guard Jimmer Fredette and small forward Darius Miller on Thursday, league sources confirmed to The Advocate. Both contracts reportedly are for the league minimum.
Fredette, the 2011 Wooden Award winner as college basketball’s top player, gives the Pelicans the 3-point shooting threat they lost when guard Anthony Morrow signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this week. Morrow finished fourth in the NBA with 45.1 percent 3-point shooting last season, when he averaged 8.4 points per game as a reserve.
Fredette is a career 40.1 percent 3-point shooter but shot 47.6 percent in 48 games with the Sacramento Kings and Chicago Bulls last season. He made 49 percent of his 3s last season with Sacramento in 41 games, averaging 5.6 points.
Fredette, 6-foot-2, led the nation in scoring his senior year at BYU at 28.5 points per game as the team’s point guard. The Cougars reached the 2011 NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.
He was selected 10th in the NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and sent to Sacramento in a three-team trade with Charlotte in which recently signed Pelicans small forward John Salmons was involved.
In the NBA, Fredette’s offensive skills translated to more of a shooting guard, but he had problems scoring against more athletic players at his position. Defensively, he also found it difficult against taller, quicker, skillful players for which his position is known.
Nonetheless, finding a player who can consistently make 3-pointers was needed to help open the court for drives by Pelicans guards Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon and shots in the lane by power forward Anthony Davis and newly acquired center Omer Asik.
The signing of Miller gives the Pelicans two small forwards after they signed Salmons on Monday to a one-year, $2 million contract.
Miller played with New Orleans the past two seasons after being a second-round draft choice in 2012 from Kentucky, where he played on the team with Davis that won the NCAA championship. He spent his rookie season adjusting to the speed and athleticism of the NBA, including a stint in the Development League.
Last season began with Miller missing the first 17 games while recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. He played in just 45 games but got in excellent shape, losing 17 pounds from the previous season.
By the end of the season, he began to show marked improvement, and his confidence grew.
He averaged 4.4 points in 16.1 minutes per game last season after averaging 3.3 in 14.6 as a rookie. He made approximately $717,000 last season, and the Pelicans decided not to make a qualifying offer of $1,115,243, making him an unrestricted free agent. He is expected to battle Salmons, 34, for the starting position in training camp.
Fredette and Miller give the Pelicans 14 players on the roster, two over what’s required by the league. Small forward Omri Casspi, who came to the team in the trade that acquired center Omer Asik, is expected to be waived. But the Pelicans would like to keep power forward Patric Young, an undrafted rookie from Florida who is on their summer league team.
Knicks sign veteran center Jason Smith: In New York, the New York Knicks have signed veteran center Jason Smith.
The 7-footer averaged 9.7 points and a career-high 5.8 rebounds in 31 games last season in New Orleans. The first-round pick in the 2007 draft has also played for Philadelphia and has a career average of 6.0 points.
Terms of the deal announced Friday were not disclosed, but the Knicks had only the mid-level exception for tax-paying teams available, worth $3.3 million next season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.