Solomon Hill

Pelicans Still In Need Of A Wing Player?

A bigger issue with the Pelicans this upcoming season may be the absence of a reliable player on the wing rather than the loss of Rajon Rondo or DeMarcus Cousins, as newcomers Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton are capable of replicating their production, at least in part, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate.

Kushner opines that nobody on the Pelicans’ roster is capable of being a solid “3-and-D” player, as Solomon Hill has struggled to recover from a torn hamstring and E’Twaun Moore, limited by his 6’4” frame, has been asked to play against players much taller than him and seemingly taken out of his comfort zone as a result.

“If it was up to me — it doesn’t really matter as long as I stay on the floor and help my team win — but I would like to say that maybe I hopefully could be playing a little bit more guard (this season),” Moore said. “Last year, I was more of a wing, but it worked out well for the team because we played so fast. But it would be kind of cool to be going back to being a guard again.”

So, the Pelicans will now hold a three-man competition between Troy Williams, Garlon Green, and Kenrich Williams in order to find someone who may be able to crack the team’s wing rotation this season.

The Pelicans could also be active around midseason, as they were when they acquired Cousins in 2017 and Nikola Mirotic last season. But for now, they’ll rely on MVP-candidate Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Randle and Mirotic, which should be enough to keep them in the Western Conference playoff race.

Rockets Pursuing Hawks’ Kent Bazemore?

The Rockets are interested in dealing for the Hawks’ Kent Bazemore, according to Kelly Iko of RocketsWire.

While the addition of Carmelo Anthony after he clears waivers seems like a foregone conclusion, the Rockets are in the market for a defensive-minded wing. Bazemore fits that bill but Houston would have come up with a package that would interest the Hawks.

Presumably, the Rockets would deal Ryan Anderson’s contract to make the numbers match up, but they’d have to attach a draft pick and/or young player to entice Atlanta’s front office. Anderson has two years and $41.7MM left on his deal with no options; Bazemore has two years and $37.3MM left on his contract but holds a player option for the final year.

A package of Anderson, Chinanu Onuaku and a 2019 first-rounder would be feasible financially but Atlanta doesn’t view Onuaku as a ‘move-the-needle’ player, according to Iko.

Bazemore averaged 12.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.5 SPG in 65 starts with Atlanta last season.

The Pelicans are also looking at Bazemore, according to Iko, but Atlanta doesn’t want Solomon Hill as part of the deal.

Pelicans Notes: Jackson, Bluiett, Payton, Trades

Pelicans guard Frank Jackson sprained his left ankle during summer-league action and will be out 2-4 weeks, according to Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge Advocate. It’s another injury setback for Jackson, an early second-round pick last June. He has yet to appear in an NBA game after undergoing three right foot surgeries. Jackson will make a guaranteed $1.38MM next season.

In other developments involving the Pelicans:

  • Rookie swingman Trevon Bluiett has shown a good shooting stroke in summer-league play, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Bluiett scored a combined 50 points on the team’s first two games while making 67% of his 3-point attempts (12-for-18). The Xavier product went undrafted and is trying to earn a roster spot. “He can really shoot, and I like all the shots he’s taking,” assistant coach Kevin Hanson told Guillory. “That’s the biggest thing: he’s got to be concerned about his shot selection. But he’s been good.”
  • Playing for his hometown team was an easy decision for point guard Elfrid Payton, Guillory writes in a separate story. Payton, the former Magic and Suns point man, signed a modest one-year, $2.7MM free agent deal to join a playoff contender. “The losing he went through was something different for him,” his college coach Bob Marlin told Guillory. “It’s hard when you’re a competitor and you get to a situation where you lose 50 or 60 games in a year and you’re not used to that.”
  • The team is likely to make a trade in the coming weeks, according to Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune. The current roster is solid but not enough to concern the top teams in the West, Duncan continues. The Pelicans would like to rid themselves of a bad contract (Alexis Ajinca, Solomon Hill) and improve the rotation, something that will aid their desire to retain Anthony Davis beyond the next two seasons, Duncan adds.

Injury Notes: Hill, Wall, McCaw, Gordon, Anderson

After missing the Pelicans‘ first 69 games this season due to a torn left hamstring, Solomon Hill returned on Sunday and said he “felt way better than I thought I would,” per William Guillory of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Despite the fact that he hadn’t appeared in a regular season game since last spring and only played eight minutes, Hill said he felt comfortable on the court.

“I kind of felt after a while that it was like my fifth game back,” Hill said. “It kind of just came and went. … When it was over, (I) was really thinking I can play more. It’s a good sign.”

As New Orleans works Hill back into its rotation, let’s round up a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA…

  • It’s not “etched in stone,” but John Wall could participate in five-on-five practice by the end of this week, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said today (Twitter link via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post). Wall, sidelined since January 25, remains on track to return from his knee injury in advance of the playoffs.
  • Patrick McCaw is set to return to action on Monday night against San Antonio, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn’t expect the second-year guard to just sit on the bench. Expect McCaw to play about 15 to 20 minutes, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “We need him,” Kerr said.
  • Having passed the concussion protocol, Aaron Gordon will be available to play for the Magic on Tuesday night vs. Toronto, the team announced today (via Twitter). Gordon, a restricted free agent this summer, last appeared in a game on March 7.
  • Ryan Anderson played in both of the Rockets‘ games over the weekend after missing the previous nine contests with hip and groin injuries. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes, Anderson struggled a little with his rhythm in his first game back, but said he felt “no pain.”

Southwest Notes: Hill, Ferrell, Murray, Hammon

Pelicans forward Solomon Hill may make his first appearance of the season Sunday, according to Christian Boutwell of The Journal Times. Hill has been sidelined for the past 68 games by a torn hamstring that required surgery in late August. Coach Alvin Gentry told reporters tonight that Hill will undergo preliminary tests before the game to see if he’s able to play.

“Whenever I can get out there, it’s not just about playing, but it’s about contributing,” Hill said. “I’m not trying to take from the team. I don’t care where I am in my situation in recovery … Whatever minutes I play, if they don’t help the team, they hurt the team. That’s my goal, to help the team. If I can’t help the team and I hurt them more than I [help], then I’m going to have a talk with somebody and just be like the group is playing well and I don’t want to take from anybody — especially if I’m not in a situation to be 100 percent or close to it.”

Hill has been participating in practice on a limited basis and has seen most of his action in two-on-two games. He appeared in 80 games last season, starting 71, after signing a four-year, $48MM contract in the summer of 2016.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks guard Yogi Ferrell passed the 2,000-minute threshold this week, pushing him into the starter criteria for free agency, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Ferrell, who will be a restricted free agent, will have his qualifying offer and cap hold rise from $1.7MM to $2.9MM. He is averaging 10.1 points per game in his first full season in Dallas.
  • Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray hasn’t been the difference maker that coach Gregg Popovich had hoped when he inserted him into the starting lineup in January, writes Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype. San Antonio is 9-12 since the move and is barely clinging to a playoff spot.
  • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon has decided to remain with the team after having conversations with Colorado State about becoming the men’s head basketball coach, according to Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Hammon is in her fourth season with the Spurs and is considered a candidate to someday become the NBA’s first female head coach.

Injury Updates: Leonard, Hill, Williams, Ross, Wall

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard will meet with coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday to discuss his progress rehabbing from a quad injury, Michael C. Wright of ESPN reports. Leonard could return as early as Thursday if both parties feel he’s ready to play again. The team’s franchise player has been sidelined since January 13th with the lingering quad issue that has cost him all but nine games this season. 

In other injury updates from around the league:

  • Pelicans forward Solomon Hill could make his season debut as early as this weekend, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Hill has been sidelined by a torn hamstring suffered in late August.  “We’re so close to the finish line that we’re definitely not going to rush the situation now,” coach Alvin Gentry told Guillory. “I can see a situation where he might be able to play a few minutes here or there.” Hill is in the second year of a four-year, $48MM contract.
  • Suns reserve center Alan Williams could make his season debut on Tuesday, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Williams underwent surgery in September to repair the meniscus in his right knee with a six-month timetable to return. He went through a full practice on Monday. Williams, whose three-year, $17MM contract is only guaranteed through this season, averaged 11.4 PPG and 9.1 RPG after the All-Star break last season.
  • Magic swingman Terrence Ross is questionable to return this season, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Ross has been sidelined since November 29th with a knee injury. A bone bruise has stalled Ross’ return, Robbins adds. “Some days it feels good, and then some days it kind of flares up,” Ross told Robbins. Ross has one season left on a contract that pays him $10.9MM annually.
  • Wizards point guard John Wall went through some non-contract drills Monday as he works his way back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports relays. If medically cleared, Wall could practice in full for the first time on Friday, Hughes adds.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Hill, Evans, Murray

While the Pelicans have missed Solomon Hill on the court this season, there’s a silver lining to his lengthy injury absence, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes. Hill’s contract includes a bonus for playing more than 1,000 minutes this season, an incentive that had been considered “likely” because he achieved it last year.

However, he won’t reach that threshold this season, so his cap hit will be reduced by approximately $489K, and that money won’t count for luxury-tax purposes at season’s end. That will give New Orleans additional breathing room below the tax line in the event that the team wants to make more roster moves in the coming weeks. Hill’s cap hits in future seasons will also be reduced slightly, since that playing-time bonus will now be considered “unlikely” going forward.

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis almost certainly won’t win this season’s MVP award, but he deserves to be in the conversation, writes Rod Walker of The Advocate.
  • After undergoing an MRI for a rib injury on Sunday, Tyreke Evans has been ruled out of the Grizzlies‘ lineup for Monday’s game (Twitter links). According to Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com (Twitter link), the MRI showed slight cartilage damage, and Evans is considered day-to-day. “We’re not expecting it to be a long absence,” head coach J.B Bickerstaff said. “He’s had this injury before. So we expect to see him back soon.”
  • With Tony Parker averaging a career-low 20.6 minutes per game and Kawhi Leonard appearing in just nine contests this season, the Spurs have had to lean on other players, including Dejounte Murray. The second-year point guard has been a starter since January 21, averaging 26.2 minutes per game since then. Michael C. Wright of ESPN takes an in-depth look at Murray, exploring whether he has the potential to become one of the next great Spurs.

DeAndre Liggins Gets Second 10-Day Deal With Pelicans

The Pelicans have signed guard DeAndre Liggins to a second 10-day contract, the team announced on its website.

Liggins appeared in just one game for New Orleans during the first 10-day deal, scoring four points in 11 minutes. The team needs roster depth with Alexis AjincaFrank JacksonTony Allen and Solomon Hill all sidelined by injuries. The Pelicans were granted a $2.75MM disabled player exception on Wednesday.

Liggins played 31 games for the Bucks, averaging 1.8 points per night, before being waived earlier this month. He has been with seven teams since entering the league in the 2011/12 season.

Once Liggins’ second 10-day contract expires, the Pelicans will either have to release him or sign him for the rest of the season.

Injury Updates: Curry, Griffin, Paul, Hill

Two-time MVP Stephen Curry is expected to return on Saturday during a home game against the Grizzlies, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com reports. Curry will miss his 11th straight game on Friday because of a right ankle sprain but he participated in drills and a 3-on-3 scrimmage during practice on Thursday. “If all goes well, I expect him to play Saturday, but even if it goes well, I’m not expecting him to play (Friday),” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told the assembled media.

In other injury-related news around the league:

  • Blake Griffin practiced on Thursday after practicing with the Clippers’ G-League team on Wednesday, but it’s still uncertain whether he’ll play on Friday against the Lakers, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Griffin has missed 14 games due to a sprained left MCL. Griffin said he would defer to the team’s medical staff. “That’s why we have the team doctors,” he said. “That’s why we have the training staff that we do. They have done a great job so far putting together … a rehab plan and pushing me and getting to this point.”
  • Rockets point guard Chris Paul is expected to play either Friday against the Wizards or Sunday against the Lakers, coach Mike D’Antoni told Jeff Goodman of ESPN (Twitter link). Paul missed his third consecutive game on Thursday due to an adductor strain.
  • Pelicans forward Solomon Hill rejoined the team to watch their victory over the Nets on Wednesday, but he’s not close to returning from the torn hamstring he suffered in August, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Hill was expected to miss 6-8 months and that hasn’t changed. “It’s not going to get any quicker or anything like that.,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “We’re just going to have to let it play out. He’s still got a ways to go before he’s able to get back on the court and actually play.”

Southwest Notes: Conley, Hill, Anderson, Kleber

Mike Conley is making progress with his injured left heel and Achilles and should return in two to three weeks, according to a story on the Grizzlies’ website. The point guard has responded well to therapy and treatment to promote healing, the team says.

No timetable was set for Conley’s return when he first suffered the injury in mid-November. Memphis has gone 0-6 without Conley to fall into 12th place in the Western Conference and fired coach David Fizdale on Monday.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans forward Solomon Hill is improving after surgery in August for a torn hamstring, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Coach Alvin Gentry told reporters tonight that Hill is a “little bit ahead of schedule” in the rehab process. “We talk to him and communicate with him to try to see what’s going on,” Gentry said. “But it’s just a time injury. You can’t work harder to come back quicker.” Hill was mainly a starter for New Orleans last season, averaging 7.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 80 games.
  • Spurs swingman Kyle Anderson will be in a strong position when he enters free agency next summer, writes Michael C. Wright of ESPN. With Kawhi Leonard sidelined since preseason, Anderson has stepped into the starting lineup and has impressed San Antonio’s front office with his performance, averaging career highs in points (9.2), rebounds (6.3) and assists (3.2) through 20 games. “Free agency happens this coming July, and he’ll be in a better position because of the way he’s played,” Spurs GM R.C. Buford said. “We’ll be in a better position because we know the role that he can fill with the team that we have. We’ll evaluate Kyle’s free agency as a part of the whole team, but he’s clearly put himself in a position to be respected in free agency.”
  • Rookie Maxi Kleber is getting some of the credit for the Mavericks‘ improved performance over their past six games, relays Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. After a terrible start, Dallas has gone 3-3 since moving Kleber into the starting lineup. “Kleber’s given us a lot more flexibility defensively,” said coach Rick Carlisle. “He’s been one of our better defenders. When you add a guy like that, that can guard people individually and can switch liberally and keep little guys in front of him, that helps.”