Jose Alvarado signs two-way deal with Pelicans

Caption
Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvarado (10) celebrates the 84-77 win over Syracuse Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

All Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvarado wanted was a chance to play in the NBA. He now has one.

Alvarado agreed to a two-way contract with the New Orleans Pelicans after he wasn’t selected in Thursday night’s NBA draft, according to Alvarado’s agent Ronald Shade.

Alvarado’s deal offers validation of his decision to forgo his extra season of college eligibility to pursue his dreams of playing in the NBA. A two-way contract is a guaranteed deal in which the player plays for both the NBA team and its G League affiliate. It was worth $450,000 this past season, and each team is permitted two two-way players, meaning there are 60 such spots available. Players with three seasons of NBA service are less or eligible, meaning the pool of available players is sizable.

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While not the ideal of getting drafted and receiving a guaranteed or partially guaranteed NBA deal, a two-way deal is the next best outcome, as the team is investing in the player’s future with both money and one of its two-way spots. It would seem more than enough for Alvarado.

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“All I want is someone to give me the opportunity, and then I’ll do the rest,” Alvarado told the AJC on Sunday.

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Alvarado’s Tech teammate Moses Wright has agreed to a deal to play for the Toronto Raptors team in the NBA Summer League. Wright made the decision after going selected in the NBA draft Thursday night, Shade (also Wright’s agent) told the AJC on Friday morning.

Alvarado’s signing was no surprise to those in his circle. Alvarado performed well at the G League pre-draft camp and then took part in 17 workouts with NBA teams, he said. Teams liked his unrelenting defensive pressure, effort and his development as a 3-point shooter. He was seen as a possible second-round pick or, as proved accurate, a sought-after undrafted free agent.

Regardless, it’s a remarkable step in Alvarado’s basketball journey. Tech coach Josh Pastner was the only ACC coach to offer him a scholarship. He acknowledged that, as a freshman, the idea that he would be in position to play in the NBA seemed far-fetched. And even as he tested the draft waters, his size (5-foot-11) raised questions. But he has pushed back on the doubters once again.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, draft or not drafted,” he said Sunday. “I know something good’s going to happen on the 29th. Don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I know something good’s going to change my life forever.”

Wright’s agreement to play with in the Summer League keeps his options open should he play well there more than a training-camp invitation would, Shade said.

It was an unexpected outcome for Wright, who had been projected as a possible second-round pick or a candidate for a two-way contract that would have offered a guaranteed deal for next season. However, it’s not uncommon for players to be signed to two-way deals at the conclusion of the Summer League. The Raptors’ team will play four games in Las Vegas from Aug. 8-14.

That Wright will begin his professional career having to prove himself is perhaps fitting. His college career likewise had humble beginnings, as he arrived at Tech as a lowly regarded prospect who had few other Division I options other than Tech. He played sparingly as a freshman and didn’t make coach Josh Pastner’s full-time starting lineup until his junior season. But from there, he developed into the ACC player of the year as a senior, Tech’s first such honoree since Dennis Scott in 1990, and led the Jackets to their first ACC title since 1993 and first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010.

In an interview in June after one of his pre-draft workouts, he seemed comfortable with that route.

“At the end of the day, I don’t really care if my name gets called,” Wright said in June. “It’d be a great thing for everybody around me, to celebrate with me if my name does get called on draft night, but wherever I fall, if my name does get called or not, it’s just going to add on to my story.”

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