Norris Cole probably had the most anticlimactic summer vacation since Chevy Chase punched out Marty Moose outside of Wally World.
Thanks to Miami failing to extend Cole last off-season, New Orleans was able to offer Cole a qualifying offer just north of $3 million. Cole's people, namely his agent Rich Paul, felt that he could get a better offer from somewhere else, the only problem was "somewhere else" never materialized. I don't know how much money Paul and Cole were hoping to get but nobody was offering and New Orleans didn't have to jack up their own price tag.
I don't think Cole was wrong for thinking he could get more money elsewhere considering he put up career best numbers after arriving in New Orleans. In his 28 games as a Pelican, Cole set career highs in scoring, field goal percentage and three point shooting (Cole was shooting an abysmal 27 percent behind the arc with Miami but somehow found his shot in New Orleans and hit on nearly 38 percent. I don't get it either), and other advanced metrics like PER, offensive rating and win shares.
That being said, Norris Cole wasn't going anywhere because he had nowhere to go. He had fewer options than a toddler threatening to runaway from home because he got in trouble. If LeBron James' "Decision" was must-see TV, Cole's was a straight-to-DVD inevitability. But hey, signing the qualifying offer is probably the smarter move considering the salary cap is about to grossly expand and Cole can serve as the quasi-secondary ball handler with Jrue Holiday on a minutes restriction until January at the earliest.
Make no mistake, it's great that the #ColeBlooded is back in a Pelican uniform. The diminutive ball handler is well liked by fans and respected by his teammates. He doesn't do anything particularly well, but he's a try hard, energetic spark plug with two championship rings on his hand.
His acquisition, along with Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter's, gave New Orleans quality depth they didn't have at the start of the 2014-15 season. Remember at one point in time, this team rolled out backups named Nate Wolters, John Salmons and something called Gal Mekel which is not the name of a fortune teller character played by Lena Dunham as I previously thought.
One thing I'm curious to see is whether Cole's resurgence was legitimate or an anomaly. In four seasons with Miami, he was a 41/32/76 percent shooter scoring 6.6 points and handing out 2.3 assists. I'm supposed to believe that the New Orleans version of Cole, the guy who shot 44/38/74 with nearly 10 points and 3 assists, is the guy I'm getting all season long? I hate being a skeptic, but you tell me what's a better sample size: 274 games over three and a half years or 28 games over half a season?
I'm not sure what to expect from Norris Cole on the court, but either way he's going to be looked upon as a leader in the locker room thanks to his stint in Miami. Obviously Anthony Davis will make this team go, but I think Cole's and Kendrick Perkins' championship pedigree will help show him what it takes to get to the top.
If nothing else, I believe Cole will continue to perform like he did after being traded to New Orleans because he's playing for a new, and richer, contract. DeAndre Jordan's a career 8 and 9 guy and then suddenly when it's time to get a new deal he's possessed by the ghost of Wilt Chamberlin and posts a 12 and 15 season. I'm sure that's a coincidence.
Cole's in a similar situation. He and Rich Paul spent all summer looking for a deal that wasn't reflective of his value and he didn't get it. His next deal's going to depend on how he performs this upcoming season with New Orleans. If Cole wants bigger money next season he'd better spend this year earning it.
Regardless of whatever goes down, the Pelicans are better with Norris Cole on the roster. Plus, he has the best high-top fade this side of the Dixon Line. That's like an intangible or something.