It’ll take three separate trades to make it happen, but the Dallas Mavericks’ D-League affiliate is in the process of acquiring the rights to former first-round pick Fab Melo, according to sources with knowledge of the moves.
The 7-footer from Brazil was in training camp with the Mavericks but didn’t make Dallas’ opening night roster. Melo, though, will soon be eligible to play a half-hour up the road with the Texas Legends, sources said Wednesday, after the three trades involving four D-League franchises are completed.
The first deal, as reported Tuesday night by USA Today’s Sam Amick, will send the D-League rights of another former first-round draft pick -- former Magic, Thunder and Sixers center Daniel Orton -- from the Tulsa 66ers to the Maine Red Claws for a future second-round pick.
The second trade will send the Legends’ Sean Singletary to the Erie BayHawks, Erie’s Mustapha Shakur to Tulsa and that same second-round pick from Maine to Texas.
In the third trade, Texas will give Maine its second-rounder back for the D-League rights to Melo, who was selected No. 22 overall in 2012 and averaged 9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and a league-best 3.1 blocks in 26.2 minutes per game for the Red Claws in 2012-13.
The Legends had to be creative to find a way to land Melo after last week’s selection of former North Carolina swingman P.J. Hairston out of the D-League’s player pool. Texas was No. 1 in the draft order when Hairston submitted his name for D-League selection but went to the bottom of the order after selecting him.
Melo was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Memphis Grizzlies after his rookie season, only to be waived by the Grizzlies in August just two weeks after they acquired him.
Turns out Memphis took Melo from the Celtics in an early-August trade with no real intent to keep him. The payoff for the Grizzlies was creating a trade exception by sending Donte Greene to the Celtics in the deal and receiving nearly $1.7 million in cash from Boston to cover Melo's $1.3 million salary in 2013-14.
Melo then went unclaimed on waivers after Memphis let him go, which is unusual for such a recent first-round pick but made it clear that questions clearly persist around the league about Melo's ability to stick at the highest level.