The New Orleans Pelicans are finalizing a multiyear deal with Brazilian guard Didi Louzada, league sources told ESPN on Sunday.
Louzada has since been stashed with the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL as part of the league’s Next Stars program.
New Orleans has until April 27 to sign another player to its roster after letting Isaiah Thomas’ 10-day contract expire on Monday. Because of testing policies, Louzada’s contract could be finalized closer to that date.
Since Louzada is a draft pick of the Pelicans, his tax hit for this year would count as zero years of service, which is important for a team trying to stay under the luxury tax this season.
Louzada played his final game for the Kings on Saturday in a win over the Cairns Taipans, which moved the Kings into fourth place on the NBL ladder with 12 regular-season games to play. He arrived in the United States on Sunday morning, sources said.
Louzada played two seasons with the Kings, averaging 8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game over the course of his 2021 NBL campaign, shooting 38.9 percent from the field and 26.4 percent from the 3-point line. In one of Louzada’s recent games, he scored 28 points against the South East Melbourne Phoenix, shooting 6-of-7 from downtown.
Over his two years in Sydney, Louzada added nearly 40 pounds to his frame and was widely regarded as one of the NBL’s most reliable perimeter defenders.
The decision to bring Louzada over comes at a time when the Pelicans’ wing depth has been hit by injuries. Alexander-Walker (high ankle sprain) and Josh Hart (torn UCL in his right thumb) both should be out at least a few more weeks recovering from their injuries. New Orleans added James Nunnally on a 10-day contract to help with the depth there as well and released 2020 NBL Most Improved Player Will Magnay in order to do so.
Louzada’s move from the NBL to the NBA continues a trend for the Kings, a team run by former Memphis Grizzlies executive Chris Pongrass. Jae’Sean Tate was with the Sydney-based team during the 2019-20 NBL season before signing a multiyear deal with the Houston Rockets, joining his former Kings head coach, Will Weaver, who signed onto Stephen Silas’ coaching staff in the offseason.