NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans announced the signings of three players on Thursday afternoon, just as the team prepares to open play in the NBA2K24 Las Vegas Summer League on Friday.
Jones opted out of his contract to become a restricted free agent, but quickly agreed to terms with the Pelicans on a reported four-year, $54 million extension, though terms of the deal were not included in the team’s press release.
Jones, entering his third season with the Pelicans has quickly become one of the most-feared and versatile defensive players in the league. He started all 66 games he appeared in last season, averaging 9.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game.
The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year was one of only six players in the NBA to average at least 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 4.0 rebounds per game last season, joining Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Edwards, Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, and De’Anthony Melton.
The Pelicans inked forward EJ Liddell to a multi-year deal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed, though reports indicate it is a three-year deal worth more than $6.2 million.
Liddell, 6-6, 240, who was selected by New Orleans with the 41st overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft out of The Ohio State University, missed all of last season due to a torn ACL in his right knee.
Prior to his injury, the Pelicans thought they had one of the steals of the draft in Liddell. In his final season at Ohio State, he earned third-team All-America honors after averaging 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 blocks per game. He was also named first-team All-Big Ten and made the Big Ten All-Defensive team after leading the Buckeyes in scoring, rebounding, and blocks.
Hoping to fill the void left by the departures of Jaxson Hayes and Willy Hernangomez, the Pelicans inked 10-year veteran Cody Zeller to a reported one-year, $3.1 million contract.
Last season Zeller played with the Miami Heat, posting 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. As Miami made its run to the NBA Finals, Zeller appeared in 21 games, averaging 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Zeller has played in 509 games, with 275 starts, for Charlotte, Portland and Miami, averaging 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.6 blocks in 22.0 minutes per contest.
With the addition of Liddell to the main roster, the Pelicans now have 14 players under contract. Guard Dereon Seabron holds one of New Orleans’ two-way contracts.
The team’s salaries now total more than $168 million, with the Pelicans moving ever closer to the NBA Super-Tax Apron.
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