Forward John Salmons leaves the Pelicans to deal with a ‘fairly serious’ family matter, coach Monty Williams says _lowres

Advocate Photo by KYLE ENCAR --New Orleans Pelicans forward John Salmons (15) puts up a jump shot New Orleans in the first half on Friday, Dec. 26, 2014 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Small forward John Salmons left the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday for what the team said was personal matters, and coach Monty Williams said he’s not expecting him back anytime soon.

“He’s dealing with a family matter, and it’s fairly serious,” Williams said before Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns at the Smoothie King Center.

Salmons, a 13-year veteran, was signed as an unrestricted free agent in July to help bolster the small forward position, a big question mark heading into the season. But he averaged just 2.3 points on 35.6 percent shooting in 13.5 minutes per game.

Salmons didn’t score in his first five appearances this season. He seemed to be ready to contribute consistently after he had back-to-back games of nine points Nov. 28 at Atlanta and the next night at Washington.

Two games later, though, his playing time began to wane when the Pelicans signed Dante Cunningham, who’s athletic, versatile and a solid defender.

Salmons has a career average of 9.3 points but during his prime was a consistent 15 points-per-game scorer. In 2008-09, he averaged 18.3 with the Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings.

Salmons turned 35 on Dec. 12. He and his wife, Taniesha, had their third child Nov. 3.