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New Orleans Pelicans lack of investment at small forward obvious comparing salaries

A Pelican will not appear on this list. What if we combined all the Pelicans playing small forward? Probably not.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Position 2015-2016
LeBron James SF $22,970,500
Carmelo Anthony SF $22,875,000
Kevin Durant SF $20,158,622
Paul George SF $17,132,587
Kawhi Leonard SF $16,407,500
Tobias Harris SF $16,000,000
Gordon Hayward SF $15,409,570
Chandler Parsons SF $15,361,500
Danilo Gallinari SF $14,000,000
DeMarre Carroll SF $13,600,000
Nicolas Batum SF $13,125,306
Rudy Gay SF $12,403,101
Andre Iguodala SF $11,710,456
Wilson Chandler SF $10,449,438
Luol Deng SF $10,151,612
Gerald Wallace SF $10,105,855
Jeff Green SF $9,550,000

All from Basketball Insiders. Note that ESPN's salaries list has a number of omissions.

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.