New Orleans Pelicans forward Solomon Hill had surgery for a torn hamstring and reportedly could miss most of the upcoming NBA season.
He is a solid defender and would have played surplus minutes at small forward for the Pelicans. His injury seems similar to what Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Khris Middleton suffered, which sidelined him for four and a half months last year.
Bobby Marks explained what the team may be able to do with Hill expected out (via ESPN):
“New Orleans will need to rely on the minimum market for a replacement to Solomon Hill. The Pelicans are $1.473 million below the hard cap, good enough for 1 minimum player on the roster. Waiving Jordan Crawford ($250,000 guaranteed) would allow New Orleans 2 roster spots and stay below the hard cap.”
Here are some of the players who could help add depth to the team with Hill on the sideline. He started 71 games for the Pelicans last season.
Shabazz Muhammad ($1.57 Million)
Haley O’Shaughnessy recently explained why the unrestricted free agent Shabazz Muhammad may not require more than a minimum salary to sign (via The Ringer):
“Minny can afford the 24-year-old only at the veteran minimum … Of the teams that were reportedly interested in Muhammad in July, none can afford to offer much more than the minimum, if they can make an offer at all.”
While he doesn’t provide significant value on offense, he is a serviceable player who can add depth to the rotation. He needs to have a good season to make more money long-term so next season could be a “prove it” year for the 24-year-old wing.
Matt Barnes ($2.32 Million)
The Pelicans face significant pressure to make the postseason considering they have star power in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in their starting lineup.
Someone who could immediately help and provide experience in that regard is Matt Barnes. His team has reached the playoffs nine times during his career and last year he played for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Barnes, 37, has obviously slowed down in recent years, but he was still able to average 24 minutes per game last season. He has said he has no plans to retire and still has gas left in the tank. In Sacramento he played alongside Cousins, who says he is recruiting free agents to the team.
Dante Cunningham ($2.10 Million)
When he was rumored to sign with the Timberwolves earlier this offseason, it was reported Dante Cunningham would not take the NBA minimum salary for next season. But as the market has dried up, it seems this may be his only option.
Although he declined his player option from the Pelicans to become an unrestricted free agent, Cunningham could be an interesting fit to return to New Orleans for cheaper than expected. He played 25 minutes per game and shot a career-high 39.2 percent from long distance.
His field goal percentage last year was also the best it had been since the 2011-12 season.
Gerald Green ($2.32 Million)
Last season, Gerald Green started seven games in the postseason for the Celtics. While he may return to Boston, the Pelicans could be another fit for his services.
The 31-year-old wingman has averaged 9.6 points per game during his 10-season career. Though he is not the same player he once was in the NBA, he can still step on the floor and play for New Orleans next season with Hill no longer ready due to injury.
It may not be an ideal situation for either side, but one that could realistically make sense for the Pelicans.
Iman Shumpert ($10.3 Million)
The least likely – but most exciting option – to replace Hill next season would be Iman Shumpert from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland is shopping Shumpert and desperately wants to get rid of his contract. He has a previous relationship with Cousins, as they traveled to Israel together in 2015.
However, the numbers do not seem likely to add up in salary to make this deal possible for either side.
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