One of these years, the New Orleans Pelicans will enter training camp with a complete roster, avoiding the injury misfortune and other bad breaks that have left them short-handed in each of the past few Octobers. That year will not be this one, however.
Due to a significant hamstring injury, projected starting small forward Solomon Hill will be sidelined for six to eight months. As a result, the Pelicans are weighing how to proceed to fill Hill’s spot in the lineup and deal with reduced depth at his position. The timetable for the 6-foot-7, 225-pounder, who started 71 games in 2016-17, likely means he’ll be unavailable until at least the All-Star break.
“They’re talking about him being out in the neighborhood of six months,” Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry said of Hill’s injury on Monday’s episode of the Black and Blue Report. “So you’re talking about if you get him back, you get him in the middle of February or something. Obviously that’s going to be a struggle for us, and a struggle for him to get himself in basketball shape. He’s not going to be able to do running obviously when it’s a hamstring (injury). We’re disappointed, but we have to move on.”
Asked whether Hill’s absence could result in the Pelicans using more small lineups, Gentry said that is possible, but the team’s also evaluating options to add to the current roster. The only other Pelicans with significant NBA experience at small forward are Quincy Pondexter and Darius Miller; Pondexter has missed the past two seasons due to injury, while Miller is returning to the NBA after two-plus years in Germany.
“I think we’ve got some players who can fill in, but we’ve really got to go out and find another guy of that size with a little bit of versatility, that can play some (power forward) or maybe even some (shooting guard) for us, depending on who we try to get,” Gentry said. “Right now we’ve got to decide if we’re going to add a guy and how we can do that.”
Hill averaged 7.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season, but his bigger contributions came at the defensive end, where he often was matched up against the opponent’s best player.
“I thought he guarded his position as well as anyone last year,” Gentry said. “He did a great job on guys like Paul George. Kevin Durant got his points, but it’s a matter of how he got those. I thought (Hill) did a great job in those situations. Not having him out there obviously takes a really good perimeter defender away from us, but we’ve got to find a way to fill in and adjust.”