The Pelicans worked out a number of veteran players that could potentially be used to fill the void at small forward in the wake of Solomon Hill‘s hamstring injury, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed on his podcast. Included in the workout were Josh Smith, Chase Budinger and Martell Webster.
While Wojnarowski questions the decision to bring in a handful of players with spotty track records to fill such a vital role for a Pels team with playoff intentions, New Orleans will need to come up with a solution if they can’t quickly lock down Dante Cunningham.
As we discussed on Tuesday, the Pelicans are trying to bring Cunningham back on a minimum deal but are facing strong competition from Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves. Cunningham has served as a spot starter for the Pels on and off over the course of the past three seasons.
Of the three vets Wojnarowski mentions to have worked out for the franchise, it’s Smith who had the most significant NBA tenure but he’s also likely the least natural small forward of the three as well.
For nine seasons Smith helped anchor a Hawks team that gradually became one of the Eastern Conference’s most reliable contenders but things began to unravel when he signed a free agent deal with the Pistons ahead of the 2013/14 campaign.
Since then, Smith has bounced from the Pistons to the Rockets and Clippers and has found himself out of the league altogether since 2015/16.
Famously criticized for his tendency to shoot long twos, Smith’s inclusion in a Pelicans rotation already built around two traditional big men causes consternation and, in the eyes of Wojnarowski, won’t exactly help the franchise woo superstar Anthony Davis, whose name has come up as a coveted trade target for the Celtics.
Budinger, like Smith, hasn’t suited up for an NBA team since the 2015/16 season, while Webster hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since 2014/15.