The New Orleans Pelicans enter the season with reasonable questions about the small forward position. Stop me if you've heard this before. Small forward has been a revolving door since Trevor Ariza packed his bags in a trade to the Washington Wizards for Rashard Lewis.
Al-Farouq Aminu had numerous opportunities to seize control but found himself a far better small ball power forward than a wing player. Darius Miller had a shot, and now fills his passport in Europe. Xavier Henry, Lance Thomas, and Josh Childress have all come and gone. Tyreke Evans even took a spin, relatively successfully, at small forward before moving to the bench and eventually the starting point guard slot.
Thankfully last season the Pelicans found some semblance of an answer between Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter. The two veterans took over for Luke Babbitt early in 2015 and the Pels took off into the playoff hunt. Still, neither feels like a long term solution. Cunningham lacks the range to open up the floor. Pondexter is just too short and too small; far more appropriate for the shooting guard position long term.
As with Monday and Tuesday here is a look at the highest paid small forwards around the league. Many of these players become "power forwards" as the fourth quarter winds down in small ball configurations.
17 different small fowards will make at least $9 million next season. The entire Pelicans rotation (Pondexter, Cunningham, Luke Babbitt, and Alonzo Gee) will make just $8.6 million combined. Is it possible to scratch out replacement level play from those four options? Alvin Gentry will do his best to find out.