John Salmons in running to start for Pelicans at small forward


Three of the five starting spots for the New Orleans Pelicans are set in stone: Jrue Holiday at the point, Anthony Davis at the four and Omer Asik at center.

Out on the wings there is some talent but there are questions, too. At the two guard spot I expect Eric Gordon to win out and start but Tyreke Evans is in that mix. Either way coach Monty Williams has some solid options.

Then over the three… how about John Salmons? That’s not a good option anymore, but it may be the best one. He turns 35 this season and didn’t impress last season in Sacramento or Toronto (he had a PER of 7.8), although he did shoot 38 percent from three. Bottom line is Salmons is going to get a shot reports John Reid at the Times Picayune.

It’s likely that Salmons, a 12-year veteran, will be in a competitive battle with third-year forward Darius Miller and Luke Babbitt for the starting job. Also, it has not been ruled out that swingman Tyreke Evans could move into the spot as a starter if Pelicans coach Monty Williams decides to stick with Eric Gordon as the starting shooting guard.

That last option (starting Gordon and Evans) seems the most logical, but I get why Williams would want to bring the scoring firepower of Evans off the bench as a sixth man. However, Williams only has that option if he can trust Salmons to find his old form (or for Babbitt or Morris to really step up their games). If you start Evans then frankly none of those backup options are very thrilling.

Salmons used to be a solid wing, but his game has dropped off with age dramatically in recent seasons. He has ball handling skills but used to drive and shoot or create, plus he got to the line, now he really doesn’t draw fouls anymore. If he can give the Pelicans any kind of consistent play starting or off the bench it would be a huge boost for a team that should be dramatically better and maybe even threaten for a playoff spot. But I expect Monty Williams and the Pelicans management will spend a lot of time looking for better options at the three.