Melvin Ely

18 Former NBA Players Charged For Allegedly Defrauding League’s Benefit Plan

Eighteen former NBA players face charges in New York federal court over allegations that they defrauded the NBA’s health and welfare benefit plan, according to a report from Jonathan Dienst and Tom Winter of NBC. The players each face a count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud.

As Dienst and Winter outline, the indictment alleges that these players engaged in a scheme from 2017-20 to defraud the NBA’s benefit plan by submitting false claims for dental and medical expenses that were never incurred. According to the indictment, the fraudulent claims totaled about $3.9MM, and the defendants received approximately $2.5MM in proceeds.

While none of the players who have been charged were household names, many won titles and/or had long NBA careers, and most will likely be recognizable to Hoops Rumors readers. They are as follows:

  1. Tony Allen
  2. Alan Anderson
  3. Shannon Brown
  4. Will Bynum
  5. Glen Davis
  6. Chris Douglas-Roberts
  7. Melvin Ely
  8. Darius Miles
  9. Jamario Moon
  10. Milt Palacio
  11. Ruben Patterson
  12. Eddie Robinson
  13. Greg Smith
  14. Sebastian Telfair
  15. C.J. Watson
  16. Terrence Williams
  17. Antoine Wright
  18. Tony Wroten

Williams was named in the indictment as the one who orchestrated the scheme, according to Dienst and Winter, who say the former lottery pick is accused of having recruited other participants by offering them fake invoices. He allegedly received payments totaling $230K in exchange for those fake documents, per NBC’s report.

Allen’s wife, Desiree Allen, was also charged in the indictment. As John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets, the Grizzlies had been planning to retire Allen’s number in January — they may decide to postpone their ceremony honoring the six-time All-Defensive swingman.

Melvin Ely Signs With Japanese Team

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.

Wizards Waive Melvin Ely

THURSDAY, 7:42am: There’s been no formal announcement from the team, but the move has indeed taken place, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter) and the RealGM transactions log.

WEDNESDAY, 4:26pm: The Wizards are waiving power forward Melvin Ely, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Ely came to Washington from the Pelicans as part of the three-team sign-and-trade that sent Trevor Ariza to the Rockets. His non-guaranteed minimum salary has been scheduled to become fully guaranteed at the end of Friday, but it appears the Wizards are releasing him before that happens.

New Orleans brought the 36-year-old back into the NBA after a three-year absence from the league with a contract signed with just two days to go in the season. The inclusion of the non-guaranteed 2014/15 salary made it plain that the Pelicans intended to use him as trade fodder, and his contract proved key in the team’s ability to acquire Omer Asik, as I explained earlier.

Washington has been less than $200K shy of the tax line, but dropping Ely will allow the team to open up more than $1.3MM of extra space beneath the threshold, room to add another minimum salary or two. The Wizards are also hard-capped, so even if they go over the tax line, they can’t go more than $4MM into the tax at any point this season.

Rockets, Pelicans, Wizards Swap Ariza, Asik, Ely

2:19pm: The deal is official, the Pelicans have announced. New Orleans is folding Scotty Hopson into the trade after acquiring him over the weekend, marking the third trade for Hopson’s non-guaranteed contract in less than a week. So, It’s Asik, Casspi and $1.5MM to the Pelicans, Ariza, Gee, Hopson and a protected 2015 first-round pick to the Rockets, and Ely to the Wizards.

TUESDAY, 10:23am: The NBA has given its approval for the trade, and a formal announcement is forthcoming, according to John Reid of The Times Picayune (Twitter link).

SUNDAY, 7:55pm: Ely will not be retained by the Wizards, tweets J. Michael of

5:59pm: Ariza will go to Houston on a three-way deal, according to David Aldridge of (on Twitter).  The Pelicans will get Omer Asik, Omri Casspi, and $1.5MM from the Rockets.  Houston will get Ariza from Washington, Alonzo Gee, and a protected 2015 first-round choice from New Orleans.  The Wizards will take on the non-guaranteed contract of Melvin Ely from New Orleans while receiving a $8.5MM trade exception (link).

Of course, Asik was already headed to the Pelicans in exchange for the 2015 first-rounder.  Now, the deal has been expanded to help facilitate the Ariza sign-and-trade.  Gee, meanwhile, has now been traded twice inside of a week.

5:08pm: The Rockets will acquire Trevor Ariza in a sign-and-trade deal with the Wizards, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).  The Wizards will get a $8.5MM trade exception by making the deal, but it’s not clear what they’ll be sending to Houston in the trade.

The Rockets and Ariza agreed on a four-year, $32MM deal yesterday.  A number of teams were rumored to be interested in the sharpshooter’s services, but the Rockets came out on top.  Ariza will try and help fill the void at small forward for Houston now that Chandler Parsons is Dallas-bound.

Ariza’s contract is structured on a declining scale, according to Sam Amick of USA Today.  He will earn $8.6MM this season, and $8.2MM, $7.8MM, $7.4MM, in the following years.  Ariza could have served as a stretch four alongside Dwight Howard if Parsons was retained, but he’ll now line up at his natural position.

In 77 games with the Wizards last season, the Rob Pelinka client averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per night.  He shot 40.7% from beyond the arc, well above his career mark of 34.7%. Ariza, 29,  played in Houston during the 2009/10 season.

While Ariza is a nice addition, it goes without saying that this wasn’t the summer the Rockets had in mind.

Contract Details: Knicks, Pelicans, Heat, Bulls

August 1st will be a key date for many teams and players in the NBA, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports details in the latest update to his salary database. Knicks guard Shannon Brown and Melvin Ely of the Pelicans have their minimum-salary contracts fully guaranteed if their respective teams don’t waive them by the end of that day, Deeks reports. It’s also the day when Justin Hamilton of the Heat earns a partial guarantee of $408,241 and Bulls big man Lou Amundson has his deal partially guaranteed for $300K if they’re not waived, according to Deeks. The salary data guru has a few more revelations, as we note below:

  • Hamilton’s partial guarantee increases to $612,362 should the Heat elect not to waive by the end of December 1st.
  • Lamar Odom‘s deal becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the Knicks roster past September 10th.
  • The Knicks have another deadline to consider on September 15th, the final day they can waive Jeremy Tyler without owing him a $100K partial guarantee.
  • Jorge Gutierrez receives a $25K partial guarantee if he sticks with the Nets past September 26th.
  • Jarvis Varnado‘s deal with the Sixers is already partially guaranteed for $75K.

And-Ones: Buford, Popovich, Chandler

Spurs GM R.C. Buford is “incredibly happy” in San Antonio and has no intention of leaving even as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili near retirement age, as Buford tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe (audio link; transcription via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News). McCarney, in the intro to his transcription, notes that Gregg Popovich has backed away from his assertion a year ago that he’ll retire when Duncan does, referring to Popovich’s remark as merely a joke.

Here are more of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:

  • On the idea that the Knicks might be focusing on the summer 2015 rather than be competitive next season, Tyson Chandler hopes that it isn’t the case: “I definitely don’t want to waste another season….I’m not into wasting seasons. Your time is too short in this league and I want to win a championship, another one” (Marc Berman of the New York Post reports). Berman adds that with his expiring contract and ability to still play at a high level, Chandler could be Phil Jackson‘s number one trading chip this summer. 
  • It appears that soon-to-be restricted free agent Gordon Hayward would like to stay with the Jazz, but he acknowledges that nothing’s certain at this point, notes Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Currently without a contract after July, Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin isn’t ready to field questions about his impending future just yet, writes Falk in a separate piece. Corbin elaborated: “I don’t know if that’s a good question to ask right nowI have a lot of evaluating to do that I want to do for myself and figure out what’s my next step.” 
  • The Rockets have recalled Robert Covington and Isaiah Canaan from the D-League, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • Melvin Ely‘s contract with the Pelicans runs through next season with non-guaranteed salary, reports Mark Deeks of ShamSports, writing for the Score. The ninth-year veteran’s minimum salary he’d get makes him a trade chip in the same manner that Scotty Hopson is for the Cavs, but Ely comes much more cheaply, as Deeks points out.
  • Deeks also reports that the Bulls’ deal with Louis Amundsonlike teammates Ronnie Brewer and Mike James, covers next season with non-guaranteed salary.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post. 

Pelicans Sign Melvin Ely, Waive Greg Stiemsma

The Pelicans have signed Melvin Ely and waived Greg Stiemsma, the team announced. Ely, an eight-year NBA veteran who last saw regular season NBA action in 2010/11, has been playing with the D-League affiliate of the Mavs. Stiemsma’s one-year, $2.676MM contract was about to expire anyway, so the Pelicans won’t take much of a financial hit even if he goes unclaimed off waivers. It’s unclear whether Ely is joining the team simply for the final three days of the regular season or has a non-guaranteed 2014/15 tacked on to his deal.

Ely was the 12th overall pick in the 2002 draft, but he never averaged as many as 10 points per game in the NBA. The 35-year-old has averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per contest with a 10.6 PER over his NBA career. The Byron Irvin client was with the Grizzlies in preseason this past fall and was briefly on the preseason roster of the Mavs in 2012. He produced 15.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 28.9 MPG for the D-League’s Texas Legends this season.

Stiemsma is something of a curious cut for the injury-ravaged Pelicans, who’ve been using him as a starter of late. The 28-year-old is averaging 2.9 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 18.3 MPG overall, but those numbers aren’t much different in games he’s started. New Orleans is carrying 16 players thanks to special permission from the league, as I detailed when the team signed James Southerland last week.

Grizzlies Cut Barrett, Ely, Gaffney, Reed

The Grizzlies have waived Andre Barrett, Melvin Ely, Tony Gaffney and Willie Reed, the team announced via press release. All four were on non-guaranteed deals, and without them, Memphis is carrying just 13 players, the NBA minimum.

Gaffney had the best chance of sticking, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, but the team will instead carry only its 13 fully guaranteed contracts (Twitter link). The 28-year-old Gaffney, a 6’9″ big man, saw the most action of any of the Memphis camp invitees, averaging 2.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per game in seven preseason tilts. Still, it wasn’t enough for him to make his first NBA regular season roster.

The Grizzlies signed Reed late last season, but he didn’t get into a game, and like Gaffney is still waiting to make his official NBA debut. Ely is the most seasoned of the cuts, but his attempt to revive an NBA career that’s been dormant since the 2010/11 season falls short. Barrett’s been out of the league even longer, not having appeared in a regular season game since 2007/08, but he, too, will remain out of the league for now.

Grizzlies Sign Byars, Ely, Gaffney

The Grizzlies have officially announced the signings of Derrick Byars, Melvin Ely and Tony Gaffney. It's confirmation of news we heard about Ely and Gaffney earlier this month. Memphis extended a training camp invitation to Byars this week, but it hadn't been clear whether he accepted. The trio of signees brings the Memphis roster to 18.

Byars also drew interest from the Knicks around the same time he worked out for the Grizzlies this month. He was a second-round draft pick of the Blazers in 2007, but Portland traded him to the Sixers on draft night and Philadelphia cut him in training camp that fall. The 6'7" swingman from Vanderbilt has also been to camp with the Thunder, Bulls and Heat over the years, but he only has a pair of games with the Spurs in 2011/12 on his official NBA resume. Last year he split the season between Caciques de Humacao in Puerto Rico and ALBA of Germany.

Byars, Ely and Gaffney are all presumably on non-guaranteed deals with the Grizzlies, as are Josh Akognon and Willie Reed. The team has 13 fully guaranteed contracts, so it's possible that none of the five camp invitees make the opening-night roster, but it seems like the most impressive of the bunch will remain with Memphis into the regular season.

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Melvin Ely To Join Grizzlies For Camp

THURSDAY, 9:44am: Agent Byron Irvin has confirmed to Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype that Ely will be accepting a camp invite from the Grizzlies (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 11:42am: Veteran big man Melvin Ely hasn't appeared in the NBA since before the lockout, but it looks like he'll at least get a chance at some preseason action this year. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld reports (via Twitter) that Ely may be headed to training camp with the Grizzlies.

Ely was a 2002 lottery pick, and spent eight seasons in the NBA with the Clippers, Bobcats, Spurs, Hornets, and Nuggets before playing overseas and in the D-League the last two years. The 35-year-old was reasonably productive in his first four NBA seasons, recording an 11.9 PER, but that number slipped to 7.5 over his next four years. At this point, it would be surprising if he were even able to crack an NBA roster as a 15th man.

With 13 guaranteed contracts on their books, the Grizzlies seem to be adding frontcourt players to compete for one of the remaining two available roster spots. In addition to potentially signing Ely, the team is set to bring Tony Gaffney to camp, and reportedly worked out Derrick Byars last week.

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