Even in August, the Pelicans can’t escape injuries.
Starting forward Solomon Hill underwent surgery on a torn hamstring and is expected to miss several months of the regular season, sources confirmed to The Advocate on Sunday afternoon. ESPN first reported the news.
Hill was not with a dozen of his Pelicans teammates this week, who participated in voluntary workouts in Lexington, Kentucky, just weeks before the start of training camp. Sources said Hill was injured doing routine offseason work on the court.
The Pelicans signed Hill to a four-year, $50 million contract last summer to shore up its small forward spot. He contributed mostly on defense, where Hill was routinely assigned to the opponent’s best perimeter player.
Offensively, he averaged just 7.0 points per game and made just 34.8 percent of his 3-pointers. But Hill improved at the end of the season, converting 46.8 percent of his 3-pointers during a 10-game stretch in late March and April, while playing alongside Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
“I think he did grow into (his role really well),” coach Alvin Gentry said in June. “He was in the 73rd percentile of catch-and-shoot 3-point shots. That’s an area he really did a good job. He has to continue to do that. And I thought he played really good defensively for us against some of the really big-time players he had to cover at that position. He had a stretch there where he covered some of the best players in the league and made them really work for it and helped us a lot.”
His absence is now perilous for the Pelicans’ already thin depth on the wings.
New Orleans will now need to rely on an a largely unproven commodity to fill Hill’s role.
Former starter Quincy Pondexter is the most experienced but has missed the past two seasons entirely recovering from multiple knee surgeries. Darius Miller was signed to a free agent deal this summer after two standout seasons in Germany but struggled in his previous NBA stint.
Jalen Jones spent the summer league with the Pelicans and signed a two-way contract, which is largely for developmental purposes.
This could also spur the Pelicans to employ a three-guard lineup and shift E’Twaun Moore into the team’s best lineups alongside guards Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo.
“Solo has been really solid for us,” Gentry said earlier this summer about Solomon. “He’s given us a lot that people don’t see, and I think he’s going to keep getting better.”