Nicolo Melli

International Notes: Germany, Italy, FAs, Carmelo, NBL, J. Parker

The German national team, winner of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, has officially announced a 16-man preliminary roster for the 2024 Olympics, as Eurohoops relays.

The 16-man group features all 12 players who were part of the World Cup roster, including veteran NBAers like Dennis Schröder, Franz Wagner, Moritz Wagner, and Daniel Theis. Four additional players will also be competing for spots on the 12-man Olympic squad: Oscar Da Silva (Barcelona), Leon Kratzer (Paris), Louis Olinde (ALBA Berlin), and Nick Weiler-Babb (Bayern Munich).

Meanwhile, the Italian national team has announced a far more expansive preliminary roster, identifying 30 players who will be in the mix for spots on the 12-man squad that will compete in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico this summer.

As previously reported, Pistons forward Simone Fontecchio won’t be part of Italy’s 2024 roster since he’s recovering from toe surgery. However, as Eurohoops notes, the 30-man group features a handful of names that will be familiar to NBA fans, including Bucks forward Danilo Gallinari and former NBA players such as Nico Mannion and Nicolo Melli.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the international basketball world:

  • Could Gallinari or Furkan Korkmaz end up signing with a European team when their NBA contracts expire this summer? Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops identifies 10 NBA free agents, including Gallinari and Korkmaz, who are potential candidates to make their way overseas in the coming weeks or months.
  • Carmelo Anthony has been named the Global Ambassador for the National Basketball League’s Next Stars program, Australia’s top basketball league announced on Monday in a press release. Like TNT analyst Kenny Smith, who was named the head of the Next Stars initiative back in April, Anthony will also join the ownership group of an NBL expansion team. The 10-time NBA All-Star spoke to Marc J. Spears of Andscape about his decision to get involved with the NBL and his goal of eventually owning a stake in an NBA franchise.
  • Former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker, who last played in the NBA in January 2022 and spent the 2023/24 season with FC Barcelona, teared up when asked in a media session about his first year playing outside of the U.S. (Twitter video link via BasketNews). As Marc Mundet relays (via Twitter), the former NBA forward explained later why he became overcome with emotion. “It was all happiness,” Parker said. “It was gratitude for this organization for giving me an opportunity. … Because of this place, I found my love for the game again. I wasn’t sure if I would play basketball again, but because of FC Barcelona, the fans, my teammates, my coaches, my friends here, I’ve found that love again and that passion.”

Nicolò Melli Signs Three-Year Deal With Olimpia Milano

As expected, veteran forward Nicolò Melli has officially reached a deal with Olimipa Milano. The Italian club announced today in a press release that Melli has signed a three-year contract with his former team.

Melli, 30, played for Olimpia Milano from 2010-15 and has spent time with a handful of other European clubs since beginning his pro career in 2007. He made his NBA debut in 2019 with the Pelicans and has since appeared in a total of 105 games (15.3 MPG) for New Orleans and Dallas, averaging 5.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.2 APG on .392/.316/.745 shooting.

Melli was involved in the March trade that sent J.J. Redick from the Pelicans to the Mavericks and played a part-time role for Dallas down the stretch. However, the 6’9″ Italian, who is expected to play for Italy in the Olympics later this month, will return to his home country for the 2021/22 season and beyond.

“Nicolò has always been at the center of our thoughts,” Olimpia Milano GM Christos Stavropoulos said in a statement. “He is the right player, in his prime, a player we were looking for as the emblem of the team player on top of having unquestionable skills. To be able to bring him back, after six years and a great career abroad, is reason for us to be extremely proud. This is a happy day for all of us.”

Melli had been eligible for restricted free agency with Dallas. If the Mavs want to retain their matching rights in the event that the forward eventually returns to the NBA, they’ll have to issue a qualifying offer.

Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reported earlier this week that Melli was on track to rejoin Olimpia Milano. Carchia also said the team was close to a deal with veteran shooting guard Troy Daniels, but there has been no official announcement yet on that one.

Nicolò Melli, Troy Daniels To Join Olimpia Milano?

Former NBA guard Jerian Grant recently signed a contract with Olimpia Milano, and it doesn’t appear the Italian team is done acquiring players with NBA experience.

According to a pair of reports from Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, Olimpia Milano is also on track to sign veteran power forward Nicolò Melli and is close to reaching a deal with free agent shooting guard Troy Daniels.

Melli, 30, played for Olimpia Milano from 2010-15 and has spent time with a handful of other European clubs since beginning his pro career in 2007. He made his NBA debut in 2019 with the Pelicans and has since appeared in a total of 105 games (15.3 MPG) for New Orleans and Dallas, averaging 5.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.2 APG on .392/.316/.745 shooting.

Melli was involved in the March trade that sent J.J. Redick from the Pelicans to the Mavericks and played a part-time role for Dallas down the stretch. However, it seems his NBA career won’t continue, as the 6’9″ Italian sounds poised to return home. Melli is also expected to play for Italy in the Olympics later this month after helping the team earn a spot in last week’s qualifying tournament.

Daniels, meanwhile, has appeared in 339 career regular season NBA games, but didn’t catch on with a team for the 2020/21 season. His last stint in the NBA came in ’19/20, when he averaged 4.3 PPG on .387/.348/.625 shooting in 47 games (11.3 MPG) for the Lakers and Nuggets.

If Daniels finalizes a deal with Olimpia Milano, it’ll be his first time playing overseas, Carchia notes.

Southwest Notes: Paul, Melli, K. Grant, Grizzlies

With Suns point guard Chris Paul one game away from an NBA Finals appearance as of this writing, the Rockets‘ 2019 offseason trade of Paul has not aged well, writes Rahat Huq of the Houston Chronicle.

The deal sent Paul, two pick swaps and two future draft selections to the Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook, who lasted just one season in Houston before the team sent him to the Wizards for the oft-injured John Wall. Paul was sent to the Suns during the 2020 offseason.

Paul has been healthier during his two All-Star seasons following the deal than he was in Houston, Huq observes. The 2021 All-NBA Second-Teamer has appeared in 140 out of 144 possible regular season contests since being moved.

Huq opines that the fact that the Rockets, under the stewardship of then-team president Daryl Morey, felt compelled to trade picks to get off of Paul’s contract is especially frustrating now that Houston is in full rebuilding mode. At least the Rockets have the No. 2 selection in what looks to be an exciting 2021 draft.

Paul has a $44.2MM player option for the 2021/22 season, but it is anticipated that he may opt for a longer-term deal with more guaranteed years this summer.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Free agent Mavericks big man Nicolò Melli is hoping to stick around in the NBA this summer, writes Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. Barkas writes that Melli may need to continue his career in Europe, where the 30-year-old vet last played during the 2018/19 season. He made his NBA debut with the Pelicans for the 2019/20 season. Melli was part of the deal that sent J.J. Redick to the Mavericks from New Orleans during the March trade deadline.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has indicated that assistant general manager Keith Grant, the club’s longtime salary cap expert, will remain with Dallas under new GM Nico Harrisontweets Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
  • After 2018 lottery picks Trae Young and Deandre Ayton stepped up to help the the Hawks and the Suns reach their respective conference finals this year, the Grizzlies should be encouraged that their young core, led by 2019 No. 2 pick Ja Morant and 2018 No. 4 selection Jaren Jackson Jr., can follow suit, writes Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Provided Jackson can return to Memphis healthy, Barnes believes the club can progress deeper into the postseason soon.

Rosters Announced For Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Four qualifying tournaments to determine the final four teams in the men’s basketball pool at the Tokyo Olympics are set to tip off on Tuesday. In advance of the Olympic qualifiers, the 24 teams involved have officially set their 12-man rosters, according to a press release from FIBA.

More than two dozen current NBA players are participating in the tournament, and 11 of the 24 teams competing for Olympic spots have at least one current NBA players on their respective rosters. Of those clubs, Team Canada has the biggest contingent of NBA players — eight of the 12 players on Nick Nurse‘s squad finished the season on an NBA roster. Turkey is next with four NBA players.

The four qualifying tournaments will take place in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada. Only the winner of each six-team group will advance to Tokyo. Those four winners will join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, France, Spain, Australia, and the U.S. in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

The teams that move onto the Olympics may tweak their rosters for Tokyo, depending on the availability of certain players. For instance, if Greece were to win its qualifying tournament, perhaps Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – who remains active in the playoffs for now – would make an effort to join the team in Tokyo next month.

Here are the NBA players on the OQT rosters:

Belgrade, Serbia

Kaunas, Lithuania

Split, Croatia

Victoria, Canada

There are also many former NBA players among the 24 rosters, including Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Milos Teodosic (Serbia), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Timofey Mozgov (Russia), and Anthony Bennett (Canada).

To view the full rosters, be sure to visit FIBA’s official site and click through to each team from there.

Southwest Notes: Williamson, Doncic, Melli, Olynyk

Zion Williamson will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer, which makes the next 12 months critical for the Pelicans, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Although he has been hampered by injuries during his first two NBA seasons, Williamson has been brilliant when he’s been on the court, averaging 25.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 85 combined games. He provides a foundation for New Orleans to build around, but the Pelicans will need him to accept a long-term deal.

No player on a rookie scale contract has turned down a maximum-salary extension during the past decade, but Clark notes that Williamson’s circumstances are unusual. He’s already an All-Star at age 20 and he came into the NBA with a reported $75MM deal with Jordan Brand. He may not mind giving up a little bit of money to get to a larger market or a contending team. New Orleans is a combined 61-83 since adding Williamson and has missed the playoffs both years.

“My stepfather taught me different,” Williamson said at his exit interview. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is kind of insane. So I’m not going to sit here and say we’re close. The reality of it is it was very disappointing not to be a part of the play-in tournament and stuff. We just have to come in and be better. That’s just me being real.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for today’s Game 4, but the Mavericks expect him to be available, according to Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic has a cervical strain and was feeling pain in his neck and left arm during Friday’s game. “I think he’s going to play, but we’ll see tomorrow,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Saturday. “Questionable, generally, from what I’ve seen this year with other teams and our team is more likely to play than not, in most cases.”
  • Olimpia Milano has interest in signing Mavericks big man Nicolò Melli after the playoffs, relays Dario Skerletic of Sportando. The original report came from Daniele Dallera of Corriere della Sera, who says Olimpia coach Ettore Messina has reached out to Melli’s agent several times. Melli spent five seasons with the team earlier in his career.
  • Kelly Olynyk exceeded expectations as a scorer and playmaker after the Rockets acquired him from Miami in March, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Olynyk will be an unrestricted free agent, but Houston has his Bird rights and a strong interest in keeping him on the roster.

Pelicans Trade Redick, Melli To Mavs; Lonzo Ball Stays Put

MARCH 26: The trade is now official, according to announcement from thes Mavericks (Twitter link) and Pelicans.


MARCH 25: The Pelicans won’t be trading point guard Lonzo Ball at today’s deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). However, New Orleans has agreed to a deal that will send J.J. Redick to the Mavericks, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Pelicans will receive James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, and a 2021 second-round pick in exchange for Redick and Nicolo Melli, a source tells Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter links). New Orleans also received cash from the Mavericks in the deal, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Charania initially reported that the Redick deal would be a three-team trade that also sent Trey Lyles from the Spurs to Dallas, but has since clarified that it will just be a direct trade between the Pelicans and Mavs.

Redick, who was averaging 8.7 PPG in 31 appearances off the bench, had expressed a desire to be dealt to a team in the Northeast, where his family resides. He’ll have to wait until the offseason to make that happen but he’ll provide the Mavericks with another 3-point threat off the bench. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Melli reportedly wanted out after seeing his playing time decline in his second NBA season. He’s only appeared in 22 games this season. He can be a restricted free agent if Dallas decides to extend a $4.87MM qualifying offer. The Mavs will keep Melli at least through the end of this season, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Johnson has an expiring $16MM contract. He’s averaging 5.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 29 games this season and gives the Pelicans another frontcourt option. Iwundu has seen action in 23 games this season but has only averaged 2.1 PPG in 12.5 MPG during those outings. He has another year left on his contract but his 2021/22 salary is just $1.82MM.

As for Ball, the Bulls, Knicks, Clippers, Nuggets and Sixers had all been linked to the former No. 2 pick to varying degrees in recent weeks, but New Orleans didn’t find a package attractive enough to deal its current floor leader.

The Pelicans will have to decide after the season whether to extend Ball a $14.36MM qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent, or let him enter the market unrestricted. Assuming they extend that QO, as is expected, they’ll then have to weigh how aggressive they’re willing to be when it comes to a long-term contract offer.

Ball is averaging 14.2 PPG and 5.6 APG for the Pelicans, who are a disappointing five games below .500.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Nicolò Melli Reportedly Wants To Leave Pelicans

Pelicans forward Nicolò Melli has seen his playing time cut in his second NBA season and he may be looking for a way out of New Orleans, according to a report from Sportando. The story first appeared in the Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport, which states that Melli is waiting for an opportunity with a new team.

The 30-year-old has gotten into just 21 games this season under new coach Stan Van Gundy and is averaging 2.0 PPG in about 11 minutes per night. As a rookie last year with coach Alvin Gentry, Melli averaged 6.6 PPG and 17.4 minutes of playing time in 60 games.

Melli was a star in the EuroLeague for several years before coming to the NBA. He is making $3.88MM this season and will be eligible for a $4.87MM qualifying offer this summer.

Southwest Notes: Hayes, Vaccine, Gay, Mavericks, Wood

Pelicans big man Jaxson Hayes has regained his rotation spot and he’s determined to hold onto it, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. In his past five games, Hayes is averaging 11.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 1.4 BPG in 17.5 MPG. The 2019 lottery pick, who had his third-year rookie-scale option picked up by New Orleans in December, has displaced Willy Hernangomez as the second-unit backup center.

The main thing I took away was I never want to be in that position again,” Hayes said of his February benching. “It’s not like it was a bad thing. I just always want to be on the court.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Eligible members of the Pelicans organization received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. A majority of the players who were eligible received the shot did so, including Sindarius Thornwell, Lopez tweets. Italian Nicolo Melli also received the vaccine, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • The Spurs had four games prior to the All-Star break postponed due to coronavirus issues. Two of the affected players, Rudy Gay and Derrick White, expressed their gratitude to the team’s training and medical staffs for the high quality of care to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News“They’re just great people, the most helpful people I’ve been around, and they care about us,” Gay said.
  • While the Mavericks plan to give stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis periodic nights off, don’t expect coach Rick Carlisle to give the team’s four rookies extended playing time, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes.
  • Rockets big man Christian Wood is hopeful of returning to action on Tuesday, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Wood has been sidelined since February 4 due to an ankle injury. He’s listed by the team as doubtful.

Western Notes: Kings, Atkinson, Pelicans, Thunder

Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon reportedly informed the Kings on Wednesday that he will not be involved in their search for a new head of basketball operations.

With Langdon pulling his name out of the Kings’ search, that leaves Sachin Gupta, Adam Simon, Calvin Booth, Monte McNair, and Wes Wilcox as potential replacements for Vlade Divac. Jason Jones of The Athletic looks at each candidate’s resume, exploring why they would make sense for Sacramento.

As Jones points out, the Kings head into the offseason with four picks in the 2020 NBA draft, including the 12th overall selection, but do not have a lot of cap space. Therefore, whoever Sacramento chooses will have a tall task ahead of them to break the team’s 14-year playoff drought.

Here’s more from across the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans are one of the many teams looking for a brand new head coach after firing Alvin Gentry. One potential candidate who could be of interest to New Orleans is former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, according to William Guillory of The Athletic, who evaluates Atkinson’s fit in New Orleans. As Guillory details, Atkinson has a relationship with Langdon, who was the Nets’ assistant general manager, and could help further the development of New Orleans’ young roster like he did with Brooklyn.
  • After just missing out on the playoffs, the Pelicans hold the 13th overall selection in the 2020 NBA draft. But unlike the other teams in the lottery, New Orleans does not necessarily need its first-round pick and could use it to acquire veteran players. William Guillory of The Athletic draws up three trades that the Pelicans could execute to upgrade their roster. One trade Guillory created has the Nets giving up Taurean Prince and their 2020 first-rounder for Darius Miller, Nicolo Melli, and the No. 13 pick.
  • The Thunder will be looking for a new head coach after parting ways with Billy Donovan on Tuesday. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman takes a deep dive into potential replacements, listing 50 possible candidates for OKC’s vacancy. Outside of the known options, Mussatto mentions multiple internal candidates, including Maurice Cheeks and Mark Daigneault.