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Pelicans linked to Jimmy Butler trade rumor and Dante Cunningham to decline player option

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Don’t get your hopes up, New Orleans, cause this one reads like fake news.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Amico published a rumor earlier today, writing rather confidently that the New Orleans Pelicans will likely pursue a trade for Jimmy Butler this summer.

Butler remains under contract, but is the constant subject of trade rumors. The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to be a strong suitor for the Bulls’ swingman this offseason.

This is not the first time the Pelicans have been linked to the Bulls All-Star wingman — however, it is following the trade of DeMarcus Cousins. Back in January a Fox Sports article mused a package of Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield and possibly (ahaha!) a future first round pick could entice Chicago. Considering only one of the five assets remains in New Orleans (in all likelihood the Pelicans 2017 first round pick will convey to the Kings and trading the 2018 first round pick would be impossible until after the draft), an entirely different proposal is required, one that doesn’t seem to exist.

To devise a deal that would even bring the Bulls to the trading table, the Pelicans would have to get lucky in the upcoming NBA draft lottery by moving up into one of the top three positions, be willing to move Cheick Diallo and throw in another asset or two. Why? Because Butler is under team control for two more years at a price tag of under $20 million a season and organizations like the Boston Celtics have oodles and oodles of tantalizing trade pieces.

Sorry, guys, but unless the Pelicans offer to move either Anthony Davis or Cousins, I just don’t see it. With Butler stating he wants to remain in Chicago, this rumor deserves to be filed under the fake news category.


Switching gears, Chris Haynes tweeted out this morning that Dante Cunningham is expected to decline his player option on the final year of his contract.

This move was 99.99% expected. Originally scheduled to make just a tick over $3 million dollars, Cunningham would have been a considerable bargain for the Pelicans next season. He is a versatile defender who can guard anyone in between the quicker guards to the bigger centers in the league. Additionally, he has become one of the better long-range shooting big forwards in the game, knocking down three-pointers at a stronger rate than Danilo Gallinari, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love.

Despite today’s news, I still expect Cunningham to return to the Pelicans as they’ll seek to use part of their MLE to re-sign him or use his Bird Rights if the team stays over the cap. He may agree to slightly below market value too as he decides to show loyalty to a franchise that signed him despite the legal troubles three years ago. However, if New Orleans winds up making a big splash during the offseason through trade or Jrue Holiday outright leaves in free agency, then all bets would be off.