Veteran forward Josh Smith is joining the New Orleans Pelicans, sources told The Advocate on Wednesday night.
General manager Dell Demps is cashing in one of the Pelicans’ injury hardship exceptions and using the additional roster spot to sign the 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward.
Smith will be with the Pelicans for an unknown length of time, since the team will have to shave its roster down back down to 15 players when at least two return from injury.
The league’s hardship exception is granted to teams missing at least four players for a duration of at least three games. Five different Pelicans are sidelined for multiple weeks, including Rajon Rondo, Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik.
Smith’s arrival allows the Pelicans to add much-needed flexibility, particularly in the frontcourt. During Tuesday’s 103-93 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans was down to two big men, DeMarcus Cousins and Cheick Diallo, after Anthony Davis was forced to leave the game because of a sore left knee.
Davis’ status for Thursday’s game in Sacramento is still unknown, but an MRI on his knee revealed no structural damage.
Smith could help fill the void.
However, Smith hasn’t logged an NBA minute in more than a year, having sat out last season entirely. The 12-year veteran spent nine years with the Atlanta Hawks before bouncing among the Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-16.
The 31-year-old posted career averages of 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds, converting 48 percent of all field goals and 28.5 percent of 3-pointers. In his two most recent seasons, however, his production declined, averaging just 9.8 points and 23 minutes per game as a reserve.
He’s the second longtime veteran the Pelicans have signed out of free agency this week, joining point guard Jameer Nelson, who was added on Sunday, just days after he was waived by the Denver Nuggets.
Smith will likely join the Pelicans immediately and be available Thurdsay night.