The Pelicans reached a deal with small forward Al-Farouq Aminu, re-signing him to a one-year, $3.7 million contract, a league source confirmed Friday night.
Aminu made $2.95 million last season, when he started 76 games for New Orleans. He averaged just 7.3 points — although on 47.5 percent shooting. Converted from power forward, he was not considered the answer at small forward and often struggled.
Still, coach Monty Williams, seeing how far Aminu had come and noting his age, 22, and how hard he worked, didn’t rule out his return when the season ended and invited him to continue personal development workouts, which started about a week after the season ended.
“ ‘Chief’ has come a long way,” Williams said. “When he first came here, he was 245 pounds. He has worked hard, and what we’ve tried to get him to do is use his athleticism to rebound, play defense and get baskets on the fast break.”
Aminu, 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds, averaged 7.7 rebounds, second on the team to Anthony Davis’ 8.2. The only NBA small forwards who averaged more were LeBron James (8.0), Kevin Durant (7.0) and Shawn Marion (7.8). Aminu had 24 games of double-figure rebounding, reaching his season high of 16 three times and 14 twice.
Aminu also was known for his “wow” plays — dunks off lobs and offensive rebounds as well as shot blocks that got the crowd excited. But his shooting often was an adventure, with high-arcing shots from the perimeter that often were off-target. He shot 21.1 percent on 3-point tries.
Aminu, whose name means “The chief has arrived,” was the No. 8 selection in the 2010 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He came to New Orleans in the Chris Paul trade before the 2011-12 season that also brought guard Eric Gordon and center Chris Kaman.
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