Center Omer Asik is finally joining the Pelicans, and he’s bringing a teammate with him.
A league source confirmed to The Advocate on Sunday night that the Pelicans completed a three-team trade with the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards that also brings small forward Omri Casspi to New Orleans and sends Alonzo Gee to Houston. The move, in which New Orleans sends a protected 2015 first-round pick to Houston and gets $1.5 million from the Rockets, addresses the Pelicans’ two biggest needs in one fell swoop.
Casspi, 26, is 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, a five-year veteran from Israel. He is due to make $1,063,384 this season. Like Asik, he’s entering the last season of his contract.
The Pelicans obtained Gee from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday; moving him and his one-year, $3 million non-guaranteed deal created needed salary-cap space.
Casspi is known as a good outside shooter, particularly mid-range, but he can make 3-pointers (35.2 percent for his career). He has a quick first step and can drive to the basket.
That he was available is not surprising. Playing behind starter Chandler Parsons, Casspi was stuck in a logjam at small forward with the Rockets, most notably with Jordan Hamilton, a 2011 first-round pick by the Dallas Mavericks.
Casspi played in 71 games and averaged 6.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in 18.1 minutes last season. He has averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in his career. Drafted 23rd overall in 2009 by Sacramento, his rookie year was his best season: He averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.
He came to Houston at the start of last season from the Cavaliers after complaining of a lack of playing time. With Cleveland, Casspi was a teammate of Gee, whom the Pelicans obtained for a 2016 second-round pick.
The Pelicans made the trade for Asik, a big-bodied defensive center it plans to pair with emerging star power forward Anthony Davis, on June 25. But the team needed to make salary-cap space to fit in Asik and fill out the roster. And the deal had to wait until the NBA’s free-agent signing and trade moratorium ended last week.
The Pelicans also needed a small forward, but Asik’s contract, in which he will receive $8.4 million this coming season, made it difficult to make moves. General Manager Dell Demps said it might require trades that could be “traditional, untraditional” — which suggested another team would be involved.
Houston reached a deal with former Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza on Saturday for four years and $32 million to replace Parsons, who signed with Dallas.
In the three-team deal, Washington receives the non-guaranteed contract of center/power forward Melvin Ely from the Pelicans, which is worth the veteran minimum of $1,316,809. He signed with New Orleans during the final week last season after the team parted ways with center Greg Stiemsma.
In a separate deal, the Pelicans obtained 6-7 guard Scotty Hopson from the Charlotte Hornets for cash considerations. Hopson played in two games with Cleveland last season and also played in Turkey. He went undrafted in 2011 out of Tennessee and also has played professionally in Greece and Israel.
Also Sunday, former Pelicans backup point guard Brian Roberts agreed to contract with the Charlotte Hornets, said a spokesman for Roberts’ agent, Andy Miller. The deal is for two years and $5.5 million; it has incentives that can make it worth more.