Pelicans cut Stiemsma, bring in Ely

The New Orleans Pelicans signed center Melvin Ely and waived center Greg Stiemsma, the team announced during Monday before its game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Smoothie King Centeer.

The Pelicans end the season against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday at Smoothie King.

The Pelicans did not give a reason it its news release why it cut Stiemsma with two games remaining in the regular season. Coach Monty Williams was not available for comment.

Stiemsma did not play in Saturday's game against the Rockets in Houston.

Ely said he was grateful for the opportunity to return to the NBA. He was an NBA Development League All-Star this season, averaging 15.8 points and 5.5 rebounds with the Texas Legends. He played eight seasons in the NBA, including two with the New Orleans Hornets in 2007-08 and '08-09, averaging 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds, then 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds.

" You don't even think about it as there's just two games left in the season,” Ely said. “It's definitely about the opportunity, and I'm just grateful to be here.”

Ely will receive about $26,000 for the three days left in the season, the prorated amount for the veterans' minimum.

Stiemsma signed a one-year $2.7 million contract before training camp to bring a physical presence in the lane as the Pelicans' starting center after having played one year each with the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Twelve days into the regular season, his left knee was sprained and he sat out six weeks allowing it to heal.

Asked last month if he thought Stiemsma brought the physical defense and rebounding the team expected from him this season, Williams said, “He has in stretches.”

Stiemsma played in 55 games this season, including 20 starts, and averaged 2.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. However, he struggled in preseason play, and Jason Smith, expected to be a key backup at center and power forward, became the starter until having a knee injury on Jan. 18.