The New Orleans Pelicans have reached verbal agreements to sign forward Solomon Hill to a four year 48 million dollar contract and guard E’Twuan Moore to a four year 34 million dollar contract, following a wild first day of 2016 NBA Free Agency across the League.
The Pelicans have been their usual cryptic selves this summer. Up until the minute Solomon Hill and E’Twuan Moore agreed to sign with the Pelicans almost any and all information on the team’s free agency motives were pure speculation.
Most on Twitter were simply confused by the Hill signing. Some hated the contract, some loved it, but most people simply asked “who’s that?”
That’s an appropriate reaction, because Solomon Hill is a huge unknown.
Meanwhile, the Moore signing received almost universal praise. Coming in at just over eight million per year on average, Moore is an elite defensive combo guard who shot 45% from three this past season. Even those who expect those numbers to regress have been more than satisfied with the deal.
Jan 10, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Solomon Hill (44) goes up for a shot during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers won the game 93-92. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
As I said, Solomon Hill is a huge unknown.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Chasing an “unknown” this summer could be smart if you can get him at a discount. If Hill is the player he was to close out this past season, the Pelicans have gotten fantastic value for his production. If he regresses to the player he was mid-season, the Pelicans might have a bum deal on their hands.
That risk is the reason Hill is making 11 million a year and not 15 or 20. Proven players are getting astronomical amounts of money this summer and most of them aren’t players anyone expects to move the needle. Even Turner might not be better than Hill, but he’s less of a risk and earned himself 70 million dollars.
Plain and simple – this signing was a “gamble”.
The best case scenario is that Hill remains the player he was at the end of last season. In the final months Hill become a solid 10-6-3 guy who really took off after the Pacers began using him as a small-ball power forward. He peaked in the playoffs shooting 57% from deep and playing his usual fantastic defense.
More from New Orleans Pelicans
- New Orleans Pelicans: Betting guide vs. Sacramento Kings
- New Orleans Pelicans: Betting guide in Los Angeles Lakers rematch
- New Orleans Pelicans: Betting guide vs. Houston Rockets, round three
- New Orleans Pelicans: Betting guide vs. Indiana Pacers
- New Orleans Pelicans: Betting guide for Christmas Day
Hill is projected to be the Pelicans starting small forward, but he could slide down to power forward when Gentry wants to play small. His versatility makes him a burden to traditional big man defenders, and he’s a good enough defensive player he could switch unto opposing point guards.
Still, this is a guy who scored just 4.2 point per game this past season and wasn’t a staple in the Pacers rotation. It cannot be stated enough that Hill is far from a proven asset and Demps chose to take a gamble with this signing.
If Hill ends up as a steal, it will be because he follows a similar career trajectory to DeMarre Carroll and Jae Crowder. Both of those guys were scrappy rebounding/defensive small forwards who figured it out on the offensive end after a few years in the league.
At age 24/25, Crowder and Carroll were almost identical to Hill per 36 minutes.
’14-’15 Jae Crowder: 13.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 42-29-77 shooting.
’11-’12 DeMarre Carroll: 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 41-36-87 shooting.
’15-’16 Solomon Hill: 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 44-32-85 shooting.
If Hill can be a hybrid between Crowder and Carroll, his contract will be an absolute steal. 10-11% of the cap for a three and D hustle guy who can grab you a handful of rebounds and make a skip pass is fantastic value in an NBA economy where Even Turner is making 18 million per year.
Hill was a risk, but a risk worth taking. His defense and attitude alone are reason enough to like his fit next to Anthony Davis.
E’twuan Moore is less of a risk than Hill, and might even be a better player.
Moore’s ’15-’16 season reminds me a lot of Eric Gordon’s ’14-’15 season on the offensive end. Moore shot 45% from deep last season after a career as a 36% shooter, whereas Gordon shot 44% after a career as a 38% shooter.
Years like that are not uncommon. Most shooters have one or two years where they are uncharacteristically hot and then regress back to the mean their following year. Moore will probably be a 38-40% shooter for the Pelicans next season, which is still great based on what they’re paying him.
As great as Moore is on offense, he earns his keep on the defensive end.
Moore is just 6’4″, but his strength and 6’9″ wingspan make him one of the few guards in the league who can successfully defend against post ups and switch onto big men in the pick-and-roll.
He is also an absolute “lock down” defender who can pick opposing players up from the opposite side of the court and stifle them with a deadly full-court press.
Making just under 8 million a year in the first season of his deal, Moore has all the marks of a high-character locker-room presence. The Pelicans have found a player who can give them 75% of Eric Gordon’s offense and play far better defense for almost half the price.
Moore is projected to come off the bench as the Pelicans’ 6th or 7th man. He’s versatile enough to play next to Tim Frazier and Tyreke Evans, but he’s wide enough that he could finish games at the three as well.
Drafting Buddy and Diallo signaled a change in culture for this team. There would be no more sulking, no more joggling down the court, and no more indifference.
This team wants to establish a culture of high character guys who win through determination as opposed to raw talent.
Signing Hill and Moore means the Pelicans have successfully added two more high energy fighters to their team.
Anthony Davis is one of the hardest working superstars in the entire league, and his team’s culture might be starting to reflect that…….