Pelicans Prospect Karlo Matkovic Heading Stateside

Croatian big man Karlo Matkovic is leaving KK Cedevita Olimpija and will be coming to the U.S. at the start of February, his Slovenian team announced in a press release.

Matkovic was selected 52nd overall in the 2022 NBA draft by the Pelicans, who still control his NBA rights. It’s possible that the former second-rounder will sign a standard contract with New Orleans, given that the team essentially has two openings on its 15-man roster (Malcolm Hill, on a 10-day deal, currently holds the 14th spot). However, that has yet to be confirmed.

Matkovic could also be ticketed for the Birmingham Squadron, the Pelicans’ G League affiliate, either on a G League contract or a two-way deal. The team would have to cut one of its current two-way players (Matt Ryan, Dereon Seabron, or Jeremiah Robinson-Earl) to sign the forward/center to a two-way contract. If Matkovic signs a G League deal, New Orleans would retain his exclusive NBA and NBAGL rights.

Matkovic, who will turn 23 in March, has enjoyed a strong season with Olimpija, averaging 14.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game across 14 EuroCup appearances. He has also averaged 15.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 2.8 BPG in 15 ABA contests (27.7 MPG).

“We are proud that in the current season (Matkovic) has developed into a real leader of our game, who is dominant not only in the regional league, but also in the EuroCup, and his departure is proof that hard and long-term work can go a long way,” Olimpija director Davor Uzbinec said in a statement (translated from Slovenian). “We are aware that we are losing one of the most important members of our team, but at the same time we are extremely happy for him and his family. We will miss Karlo immeasurably, and at the same time we will follow him in the continuation of his career, and we wish him the best of luck on his further sports journey.”

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