Josh Smith cleared, signed with Pelicans today

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Josh Smith couldn’t find an NBA contract and played last season in China. As of today, he’s back in the Association.

The Pelicans, desperate for frontcourt help due to injuries to Solomon Hill, Omer Asik, and Alexis Ajinca — not to mention guards Rajon Rondo and Frank Jackson) — signed Smith today with the hardship waiver they were granted by the league. Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news.

Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated had more details.

The NBA veteran, who played in China last season, expects to be available to play against Cleveland tonight. “This is an opportunity I’ve been praying for. I’m elated. I really appreciate the Pelicans for giving me a second chance at something I love to do,” Smith told The Undefeated.

The Pelicans ultimately confirmed it.

This is a non-guaranteed deal, the Pelicans are bumping up against the luxury tax so they are not going to spend more than they need to.

Smith and Rajon Rondo were high school teammates who have always wanted to play together in the NBA. Now they finally may, if Rondo can get healthy.

Smith, 31, is really more of a four in today’s NBA. He thinks he has a quality jumper, but his last NBA season (split between the Clippers and Rockets) he shot just 27.1 percent from three (and took more than half his shots from beyond the arc). He’s not quick enough anymore to guard the three in the NBA.

But the Pelicans are desperate for help, so they are giving the veteran another chance.