Former Pelicans big man Melvin Ely has signed a deal that will have him playing with the Gunma Crane Thunders in Japan next season, the team announced. He still needs to pass a physical before the contract can be finalized, passes along Ed Odeven of the Japan Times (hat tip to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando).
Ely wasn’t a frequent topic of discussion this offseason, as the meager amount of recent activity on his rumor page shows. The former lottery pick’s non-guaranteed pact was waived by the Wizards in July after a three team swap sent him from New Orleans to Washington. The Relativity Sports client appeared in just two games for the Pelicans last season, spending most of his time in the D-League.
Terms of the new deal aren’t immediately clear, and it remains to be seen whether or not the 36-year-old’s contract will feature an escape clause allowing him to return to the NBA if a stateside club wants to sign him. Given his age and the sparse amount of NBA playing time he’s seen in recent years, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Ely wrap up his basketball career overseas.