The New Orleans Pelicans signed power forward Luke Babbitt on Tuesday, the team announced.
Babbitt, 6 -foot-9, 225 pounds, was obtained to help fill the role of 3-point shooter Ryan Anderson, who is out indefinitely with two herniated discs in his neck. Anderson has been out since colliding with Celtics forward Gerald Wallace during the teams’ game Jan. 3 in Boston.
Coach Monty Williams said he sees Babbitt also as a small forward, particularly with guard/forward Tyreke Evans injuring his ribs Monday night against Chicago.
“I have strengths at both,” Babbitt said. “In Russia and in college, I would post up smaller players. But I think here, with the loss of Ryan Anderson, I think they envision me as a (power forward). He plays kind of a stretch four; that’s what I’m looking to do — and play a little (small forward), as well.”
The Pelicans have had a roster spot open since waiving power forward Lou Amundson on Dec. 31.
Babbitt played this season with Russian team Nizhny Novgorod, and the Pelicans bought out his contract. He averaged 13.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 18 games.
Williams said Babbitt has been scouted by General Manager Dell Demps and his staff for several weeks.
Babbitt said he first heard about interest from the Pelicans two weeks ago, and negotiations on a buyout began. Terms of his contract were not disclosed, but Babbitt reportedly sought two years.
Before this season, he played three years with the Portland Trail Blazers after being the 16th overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He averaged 3.8 points on 36.7 percent shooting and 2.1 rebounds with Portland.
He said he couldn’t get much playing time on the Trail Blazers’ talented roster.
“I was playing backup to probably the best power forward in the game right now, LaMarcus Aldridge,” Babbitt said “There’s just not going to be a ton of minutes when you’re backing him up.
“But I thought I showed some things in Portland, was able to help the team win.”
Babbitt entered the NBA draft after his sophomore year at Nevada-Reno.