Following yesterday news of Tony Allen joining the New Orleans Pelicans, many assume Dante Cunningham will be Dell Demps next order of business, and it’s hard to fault the logic.
With the Allen signing, the Pelicans roster stands 14 strong — 13 guaranteed contracts and Jordan Crawford’s partially guaranteed deal — to go along with the two-way contracts of Jalen Jones and Charles Cooke. New Orleans has $3,270,587 of room to spend via several exceptions before stepping into the luxury tax, but more importantly, the team can only spend another $3,856,125 before being handicapped — not being allowed to fork over another penny to anyone.
Considering the fact that Cunningham was set to earn $3.1 million had he accepted his player option back last May, the stars have aligned for him to recoup what he has momentarily lost. The Pelicans biggest need is a versatile forward who has the ability to play both the 3 and 4 spots. In the likeliest scenario though, Cunningham will be asked to bet on himself for another year as the Pelicans try to avoid tacking on any additional future salary through a multi-year contract.
So, what should we make of this Adrian Wojnarowski tweet?
New Orleans bringing free agent forward Perry Jones to training camp. https://t.co/L7tUria5Id— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 12, 2017
Nothing, absolutely nothing. This move has no bearing on New Orleans signing Cunningham or any other free agent because the key words in this Perry Jones III announcement is training camp. We should assume this means Jones contract is fully unguaranteed, so his primary function will be to act as a preseason body — similar to the role I envision for Martell Webster, too.
Both of these players have been out of the NBA for two seasons, have dealt with multiple injuries, and their most recent statistical lines in competition are frightful. With the Wizards in 2014-15, Webster couldn’t throw it into the ocean, and Jones showed similar struggles last season in the G-League — where he averaged a paltry 21.8 minutes. Trust me, New Orleans has no serious illusions of finding some diamond in the rough here.
So why bring in these bodies in the first place and why do players agree to such compensation-lacking terms? From a team’s standpoint, additional bodies in training camp are good for practice purposes. Franchises are allowed to carry a maximum of 20 players before being forced to trim the roster to 15 right before the start of regular seasons. Also, it’s wise to do favors for sports agent, especially if a connection already exists as it does with Jones (Bill Duffy —> Cheick Diallo) and Webster (Jarinn Akana —> DeMarcus Cousins).
As for hopeful players, invitations to training camps open professional doors a little wider. They have an opportunity to showcase themselves to not just all NBA executives but also ones who operate out of the G-League and any league overseas. In a lot of these instances, player end games are any contract, not just one in the most desirable league in the world. Considering both Jones and Webster are trying to resurrect their playing careers, I’m sure they fall into this category.
So, with the Pelicans still possessing space on the roster and on the salary cap sheet — and needing to circumvent injuries to Solomon Hill and Frank Jackson plus Omer Asik’s mysterious condition — expect New Orleans to sign Dante Cunningham or another suitable free agent in coming days instead of settling for a reclamation project like Webster or Jones.