The New Orleans Pelicans, in desperate need of wing defense, have reached an agreement with Indiana Pacers free agent Solomon Hill, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate pegs the deal at four years and $48 million, but Stein reports that certain incentives could push it north of $50 million in the end.
Hill arrives in New Orleans after an odd three-year career in Indiana. The 2013 first-round pick didn't play much as a rookie, then suddenly found himself starting 78 out of 82 games in his second year thanks to Paul George's leg injury. Hill showed some promise that year in averaging just under nine points a game, though he struggled from the field and from three-point range.
But with George returning and team president Larry Bird pushing for a different style of play, Hill suddenly saw himself as the odd man out. The Pacers curiously didn't pick up his $2.3 million player option in the fall, which they probably regret now.
Hill spent most of the year on the fringes of the rotation, occasionally popping in for big performances, but normally struggling to find his spot. His minutes were sliced in half, scoring average dipped to 4.2 points per game and his three-point percentage dropped to 32.4 percent.
But Hill experienced a resurgence late in the year that carried into the playoffs. Then-coach Frank Vogel moved him to power forward, where he started to show his skills. He averaged 10 points and five rebounds per game in the Pacers' seven-game playoff loss to Toronto and nearly won Game 5 with a difficult buzzer beater.
Given Hill's success playing power forward and his shooting struggles, it's unclear how he fits in New Orleans. But if new coach Alvin Gentry can improve Hill's three-point shooting, he could be a nice 3-and-D asset for Anthony Davis and company. The Pelicans have never found a player like Hill, except for brief moments when Quincy Pondexter was healthy in 2014-15. Hill is a tough defender, strong driver and decent playmaker, though he occasionally develops tunnel vision. The price for such promise, however, was costly.
We'll see if New Orleans' gamble pays off.